UN: Attack On Mosul Historical Mosque May Amount To War Crime

UN: Attack On Mosul Historical Mosque May Amount To War Crime

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on Friday (June 23) condemned the destruction of the leaning al-Hadba minaret that towered over Mosul for 850 years and the lying to ruins of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque, demolished by retreating Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

OHCHR spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said the attacks could amount to a war crime.

“The International Humanitarian Law clearly prohibits such attacks, and perpetrators who target these objects while being aware of their religious and historical character may be held accountable for war crimes, as in the ground-breaking Timbuktu case at the International Criminal Court,” Shamdasani said.

The demolition came on Wednesday (June 21) night as Iraqi forces closed in on the mosque, which carried enormous symbolic importance for ISIS.

It was there that its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a "caliphate" as militants seized swathes of Syria and Iraq. He proclaimed himself the caliph from the mosque's pulpit.

The jihadists appear to have chosen to blow up the mosque rather than see their flag torn down by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces battling through the maze of narrow alleys and streets of the Old City, the last district of Mosul still under the control of ISIS.

The mosque's destruction comes in the holiest period of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, its final 10 days. The night of Laylat al-Qadr falls during this period, when Muslims believe the Quran was revealed to the prophet Mohammed.