Terrorists seal off Mosul mosque preparing for last stand

Terrorists seal off Mosul mosque preparing for last stand
Displaced Iraqis carry their belongings as they evacuate their homes in western Mosul's Zanjili neighbourhood as government forces advance in the area during their ongoing battle against Daesh group fighters on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 01 June 2017

Terrorists seal off Mosul mosque preparing for last stand

Terrorists seal off Mosul mosque preparing for last stand

BAGHDAD: Daesh militants have closed the streets around Mosul’s Grand Al-Nuri Mosque, residents said, apparently in preparation for a final showdown in the battle over their last major stronghold in Iraq.
Dozens of fighters were seen by residents taking up positions in the past 48 hours around the medieval mosque, the site where Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in July 2014.
“Daesh’s fighters know that the mosque is the most important target and they are preparing for a major battle there,” said Hisham Al-Hashemi, who advises several Middle East governments including Iraq’s on Daesh affairs.
But a battle in or near the mosque would put the building and its famed leaning minaret at risk, experts have said.
The minaret, several feet off the perpendicular and standing on humid soil, is particularly vulnerable as it has not been renovated since 1970. Its tilt gave the landmark its popular name — Al-Hadba, or the hunchback.
Over the past few days, the militants ordered dozens of families living in the Zanjili district to move into the Old City to prevent them from escaping toward the Iraqi forces trying to advance from the northern side, a resident said.
Government forces have been dropping leaflets over the districts telling families to flee but the intensity of the fighting has prevented people from escaping.