Iraq lays cornerstone to rebuild iconic Mosul mosque

A picture taken on December 16, 2018, shows the Great Mosque of Al-Nuri and “Al-Hadba” leaning minaret in Mosul’s war-ravaged Old City, during the placing of the corner stone ceremony. (AFP)
Updated 16 December 2018
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Iraq lays cornerstone to rebuild iconic Mosul mosque

  • More than a year after Daesh lost control of Mosul, the iconic mosque still lies in ruins
  • In June 2014, it became infamous as the site where Baghdadi declared Daeh’s “caliphate” just days after the extremists seized Mosul in a lightning assault

MOSUL: Iraqis on Sunday laid the cornerstone in rebuilding Mosul’s Al-Nuri mosque and leaning minaret, national emblems destroyed last year in the ferocious battle against Daesh.
The famed 12th century mosque and minaret, dubbed Al-Hadba or “the hunchback,” hosted Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s only public appearance as Daesh chief, when he declared a self-styled “caliphate” after the militants swept into Mosul in 2014.
The structures were ravaged three years later in the final, most brutal stages of the months-long fight to rid Iraq’s second city of Daesh.
On Sunday, dozens of government officials, religious figures, United Nations representatives and European ambassadors gathered in the large square in front of the battered mosque to see the foundation laid.
Abdullatif Al-Humaym, the head of Sunni Muslim endowments in Iraq, set down the stone in a simple ceremony.
It bore a black Arabic inscription: “This cornerstone for the rebuilding and restoration of the Al-Hadba minaret and the Great Al-Nuri Mosque was laid on December 16, 2018.”
More than a year after Daesh lost control of Mosul, the iconic mosque still lies in ruins. The stone gate leading up to its courtyard and the greenish dome now covered in graffiti are virtually the only parts still erect.
All that is left of the minaret is part of its rectangular base, the rest of it sheared off by fighting.
Abu Bakr Kenaan, head of Sunni Muslim endowments in Nineveh province, told AFP remnants of the minaret would be preserved, while other parts of the mosque would be built afresh, along with a museum about its history and adjacent homes.
The five-year project will be financed by a $50.4 million (44.6 million euro) donation from the United Arab Emirates.
The first year will focus on documenting and clearing the site, while the next four years will see the physical restoration, the UN’s heritage agency UNESCO has said.
The mosque’s destruction “was a moment of horror and despair,” said UNESCO Iraq representative Louise Haxthausen.
“Today as we lay the foundation stone of the Nuri mosque, we are starting a journey of physical reconstruction,” she told those gathered.
The mosque takes its name from Nureddin Al-Zinki, who ordered it built in 1172 after unifying Syria and parts of northern Iraq.
Its cylindrical minaret, which featured several levels of ornamental brickwork capped by a small white dome, started listing centuries ago.
It is featured on Iraq’s 10,000-dinar banknote and gave its name to countless restaurants, companies and even sports clubs.
But in June 2014, it became infamous as the site where Baghdadi declared Daesh’s “caliphate” just days after the militants seized Mosul in a lightning assault.
That capture prompted three years of ferocious fighting to wrest back Mosul and other Iraqi cities overrun by Daesh.
In June 2017, as Iraqi forces closed in on a shrinking Daesh-held pocket in Mosul’s Old City, the militants blew up both the Al-Nuri mosque and its leaning minaret.
Daesh itself blamed a US-led strike for the destruction.
When the rest of the Old City fell back under state control, Iraqi forces celebrated at the mosque, holding Daesh’s black flag upside down and tauntingly calling out, “Where is Baghdadi?“


Libya air raid destroys warehouse, wounds three, says oil firm

Updated 6 min 6 sec ago
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Libya air raid destroys warehouse, wounds three, says oil firm

  • “This is another tragic loss caused by this unnecessary conflict,” said NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla

TRIPOLI: Libya’s National Oil Company deplored an air raid that on Tuesday evening destroyed a warehouse operated by a subsidiary and wounded three personnel near Tripoli.

“A warehouse owned by subsidiary Mellitah Oil & Gas Company (MOG) was destroyed by aerial bombardment,” the NOC said in a statement on its website.

“The attack and resulting fire destroyed valuable equipment and materials in addition to the warehouse itself,” it said, adding that three MOG employees had been lightly wounded and taken to hospital.

Tripoli is controlled by forces loyal to the internationally recognized Government of National Accord (GNA), but eastern commander Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA) launched an offensive against the capital in early April. Images published by the NOC show a building devastated by fire, which was extinguished by fire fighters.

“This is another tragic loss caused by this unnecessary conflict,” said NOC chairman Mustafa Sanalla.

“NOC infrastructure is being destroyed before our eyes. The lives of oil sector workers are continually being put at risk,” he added. The air raid poses a risk to oil production, Sanalla said, vowing to work with local authorities to “ascertain the origin of this unprovoked attack.”

The raid is the fourth attack against installations supported by the NOC since Haftar launched his offensive.

Counter-attacks against the LNA by forces loyal to the GNA have resulted in stalemate on the capital’s southern outskirts.

No side has yet claimed responsibility for the attack against the warehouse owned by MOG, a joint venture between the NOC and Italian energy firm ENI.

But forces loyal to the GNA have blamed Haftar’s forces.

The fighting since early April has killed 653 people, including 41 civilians, and wounded more than 3,500 — of which some 100 are non-combatants — according to the last count by the World Health Organization.

The UN says 94,000 people have fled the combat zones.