The United States and Iraq are blaming ISIS for the destruction of an iconic mosque that stood over the embattled Iraqi city of Mosul for eight centuries.
ISIS blamed US warplanes for the loss of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its minaret.
The mosque has been the ideological heart of ISIS in Iraq. In 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi stood on its 12th century pulpit and announced the creation of the so-called Islamic caliphate. It was the first and last time the leader of the terrorist group spoke publicly to his followers.
US officials told CNN the ISIS claim that it destroyed the mosque was “1,000% false.”
US and coalition officials have observed the mosque for several days and have seen fighters and explosives at the site, several US officials have told CNN in recent days.
Iraqi forces, supported by the United States, for months have been trying to take back the city from ISIS.
The Iraqi military said ISIS blew up the mosque as Iraqi forces were approaching.
“As our Iraqi Security Force partners closed in on the al-Nuri mosque, ISIS destroyed one of Mosul and Iraq’s great treasures,” said US Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin.
“This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organization must be annihilated,” the general said in a statement.