MOSUL – Iraq on Sunday launched the rebuilding of an ancient mosque destroyed by Islamic State militants in the northern city of Mosul.
Last year, the Islamic State blew up the al-Nuri mosque as the radical group was trying to defend its former stronghold in the city.
The rebuilding of the 12th-century mosque and its minaret is being carried out in cooperation with the UN cultural agency, UNESCO. The United Arab Emirates has also donated 50 million dollars for the project, according to Abdel-Latif al-Hamim, a Sunni Iraqi official who laid the foundation stone for the site.
Iraqi construction teams and foreign companies are engaged in the rebuilding operation, which began on Sunday, Nineveh governor Nofal al-Akoub said. Mosul is the capital city of Nineveh.
Islamic State’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance in July 2014 in the al-Nuri Mosque, days after a self-styled “caliphate” was declared in an audio message. His sermon at the mosque was seen as the official declaration of the “caliphate.”
The Islamist extremists seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in June 2014.
In July last year, Iraq’s then prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared that all of Mosul had been retaken from the extremist militia after a nine-month operation.
In December last year, Baghdad declared the liberation of all Iraqi territory that had been seized by Islamic State after a US-backed military campaign of more than three years. -DPA