A symbolic grand mosque and a landmark minaret that have been towering over Mosul since the 12th century were destroyed by ISIS on Wednesday.

A symbolic grand mosque and a landmark minaret that have been towering over Mosul since the 12th century were destroyed by ISIS on Wednesday.

Ahmad Al-rubaye / AFP / Getty Images

The Grand Mosque of Al Nuri and the adjacent minaret were built in 1172 by Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zangi, who at one point ruled Damascus, Mosul and Aleppo — and was known for unifying Muslim fighters against Christian crusaders from Europe.

The Grand Mosque of Al Nuri and the adjacent minaret were built in 1172 by Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zangi, who at one point ruled Damascus, Mosul and Aleppo — and was known for unifying Muslim fighters against Christian crusaders from Europe.

This 1932 photo shows the minaret next to a Yazidi shrine.

G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection / Via Library of Congress

Karim Sahib / AFP / Getty Images

An Iraqi antiquities official told AP in 1998 that the minaret may have started leaning because the bricks exposed to the sun started expanding, crunching those in the shade until the whole structure leaned south.

An Iraqi antiquities official told AP in 1998 that the minaret may have started leaning because the bricks exposed to the sun started expanding, crunching those in the shade until the whole structure leaned south.

G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection / Via Library of Congress

The old mosque was destroyed and renovated by the Iraqi Department of Antiquities in 1942, but the minaret was left untouched and remained one of the few original landmarks of the medieval religious complex built by Nur al-Din.

The old mosque was destroyed and renovated by the Iraqi Department of Antiquities in 1942, but the minaret was left untouched and remained one of the few original landmarks of the medieval religious complex built by Nur al-Din.

The gate of the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri in 2014.

Uncredited / AP

The minaret is so iconic that it is pictured on the Iraqi 10,000 dinar bill.

The minaret is so iconic that it is pictured on the Iraqi 10,000 dinar bill.

Via safedinar.com

In 2014, after ISIS took control of Mosul, militants killed the mosque's imam for refusing to join them.ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi spoke from the mosque as he declared a new caliphate straddling the borderlines between Iraq and Syria. That was also the last time Baghdadi was seen in public.

In 2014, after ISIS took control of Mosul, militants killed the mosque's imam for refusing to join them.ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi spoke from the mosque as he declared a new caliphate straddling the borderlines between Iraq and Syria. That was also the last time Baghdadi was seen in public.

AFP / Getty Images

After seizing the city, ISIS militants destroyed a number of shrines in Mosul and had been threatening to destroy the minaret. In 2014, residents gathered to protest against the militants and surrounded the structure, preventing the militants from approaching, according to Associated Press.

After seizing the city, ISIS militants destroyed a number of shrines in Mosul and had been threatening to destroy the minaret. In 2014, residents gathered to protest against the militants and surrounded the structure, preventing the militants from approaching, according to Associated Press.

Maya Alleruzzo / AP

On Wednesday, US Department of Defense released this image that showed the mosque and the minaret in rubble after ISIS militants detonated explosives inside the structure.

On Wednesday, US Department of Defense released this image that showed the mosque and the minaret in rubble after ISIS militants detonated explosives inside the structure.

US CENTCOM / AP

The destruction of the Grand Mosque and the minaret is the latest loss of ancient heritage in the Middle East after ISIS began capturing territories across Syria and Iraq. Two years ago, ISIS bombed a number of ancient ruins in the Syrian city of Palmyra, home to 2000-year old temples, cemeteries and statues.


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