Mosul (IraqiNews.com) A senior Iraqi army commander said Thursday that a historic minaret which exploded during battles between the Islamic State and government troops on Wednesday had already been booby-trapped, indirectly refuting the blame the group laid on U.S. warplanes.
Abdul-Ghani al-Assadi, commander of the army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service, said in a press statement that the medieval Grand Nuri al-Kabir Mosque and its famous Hadbaa (leaning) Minaret had already been prepared for detonation once the group reached “total bankruptcy” as he put it.
Assadi said it had been Islamic State’s habit to detonate historic sites in Mosul, reminding that the militants had previously blown up the Nabi Yunis shrine in Mosul.
Assadi’s remarks come as Islamic State and the U.S.-led coalition backing Iraqi forces traded blame Wednesday for the explosion that brought down the historic structure which stands at the mosque where IS first declared the establishment of its rule in Iraq in 2014.
The minaret’s collapse came as CTS forces were 50 meters away from the mosque, partaking in an invasion by U.S.-backed Iraqi joint forces of the Old City, the ancient neighborhood where a few hundreds of IS members are entrenched as a last refuge in Mosul.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement by his office that Islamic State militants, by resorting to blowing up the historic site, were officially declaring their defeat.