Destruction of Al-Nuri mosque and the death of history

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News Analysis |

Members of the militant Islamic State (IS) group on Wednesday blew up the Grand al-Nuri Mosque of Mosul and its famous leaning minaret, Iraq’s military said in a statement, as Iraqi forces seeking to expel the group from the city closed in on the site.

“We did not strike in that area,” coalition spokesman US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian told Reuters by telephone.

It was from this medieval mosque three years ago that the militants’ leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a self-styled “caliphate” spanning parts of Syria and Iraq.

Islamic State’s Amaq news agency accused American aircraft of destroying the mosque, a claim swiftly denied by the US-led coalition fighting the militant group.

“We did not strike in that area,” coalition spokesman US Air Force Colonel John Dorrian told Reuters by telephone.

Read more: Will the fall of Mosul make Iraq safer?

The news comes after the new assault on Mosul’s old city is launched by Iraqi army which is on the verge of recapturing the strategically important city. The forces had encircled on Tuesday the armed group’s stronghold in the Old City, the last district under their control in Mosul. Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is believed to be hiding in the border area between Iraq and Syria, according to US and Iraqi military sources.

The destruction of history

“You can wipe out an entire generation, you can burn their homes to the ground and somehow they’ll still find their way back. But if you destroy their history, you destroy their achievements and it’s as if they never existed”.

(The Monuments Men)

IS captured Palmyra twice from the Syrian Army and it utilized that time to destroy one of the most ancient cities in the world. Artifacts worth millions of dollars were sold in the black market which served as an extra source of income for this group.  

IS is a brutal terrorist group and the atrocities it so far committed has shocked the entire world. The videos released by the notorious group depicts beheadings, crushing prisoners under tanks and even burning and drowning them. The brutality of this group precedes it which has infused fear in the hearts of the enemies facing it.

Yet, all these atrocities are unmatched by the IS Act of destroying the ancient cultural heritage of Syria and Iraq. IS captured Palmyra twice from the Syrian Army and it utilized that time to destroy one of the most ancient cities in the world. Artifacts worth millions of dollars were sold in the black market which served as an extra source of income for this group.

Read more: E.U. authorities brace for wave of Islamic State fighters after Mosul…

With each atrocity, it becomes clearer that one of the strategic aims of the masters of IS is to destroy the history of a civilization so their quest for political, economic and social control becomes perpetual.

After overtaking Mosul from the Iraqi army, IS destroyed Mosul’s museum completely. It also booby-trapped the tombs of Prophet Jonah and destroyed it which is located in the historic city of Nineveh.

With each atrocity, it becomes clearer that one of the strategic aims of the masters of IS is to destroy the history of a civilization so their quest for political, economic and social control becomes perpetual.

Read more: Gulf crisis and the future of Middle East

After Mosul, what’s next?

As ISIL’s territory shrinks, it is expected to resort to typical guerilla warfare tactics to harass the Syrian and Iraqi militaries in addition to other militias which are at loggerheads with it.  

 

After the recapture of Mosul, the Iraqi army is expected to dash towards the Syrian border to secure it in order to hamper IS capability to move freely between the two countries. The Iraqi army will also try to conduct intelligence borne operations in major cities to root out IS sleeper cells.

The fall of Mosul will exacerbate the logistical problems for the group which is already under pressure in Syria and Iraq. As ISIL’s territory shrinks, it is expected to resort to typical guerilla warfare tactics to harass the Syrian and Iraqi militaries in addition to other militias which are at loggerheads with it.

 

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