The al-Nuri Mosque and its al-Hadba minaret, one of the most famous landmarks in the Old City of Mosul, were blown up in June 2017 during the fight against the militant group. PIX: Murtaja Lateef/dpa

MOSUL – Iraq is set to rebuild Mosul’s al-Nuri Mosque, an ancient site co-opted by Islamic State in 2014 when its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance there to proclaim a self-styled caliphate.

The mosque and its al-Hadba minaret, one of the most famous landmarks in the Old City of Mosul, were blown up in June 2017 during the fight against the militant group.

Earlier this week, the United Arab Emirates offered to reconstruct the ancient site.

“Work has started to remove debris from the site to rebuild al-Hadba minaret and the Great Mosque, which [Islamic State] terrorist elements turned into a shelter and used to declare their self-styled caliphate in June 2014,” Nofel Hamadi, the governor of Nineveh Province, said on Sunday.

Al-Hadba minaret was built by Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zangi, a Turkic ruler of Mosul and Aleppo, in 1170. It stood at 65 metres high and 17 metres wide.

The al-Nuri Mosque, built in 1172, was the first and oldest mosque in Mosul, the provincial capital of Nineveh. It covered an area of 5,850 square-metres.

Islamic State seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in a mid-2014 blitzkrieg before making it the extremist group’s key stronghold in the country.

Iraq declared victory over Islamic State in December, having retaken all the territory captured by the extremists in 2014 and 2015 with the help of a US-led alliance. -dpa

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