>> Iraq's Great Mosque of al-Nuri, the historic landmark known for its leaning minaret and placed where Islamic state leader Abū Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in 2014, blown up Wednesday by ISIS according to the Iraqi military. The Iraqi army backed by US led coalition forces had begun a push towards the mosque when ISIS fighters destroyed the ancient site located in Mosul's old city.
Reuter's foreign affairs correspondent Yara Bayoumy.>> The reason why we presume that Islamic State did carry out that attack, is because the elite Iraqi counter-terrorism forces are sort of within striking distance of this mosque in the old city. Which is basically one of the last strongholds where Islamic State is in Mosul.
This in some ways closes sort of the chapter of the story of Baghdadi first announcing three years ago now the establishment of his Caliphate. And for it to now kind of be spectacularly destroyed in that manner.>> The battle for the old city becoming the deadliest in the eight month offense to retake Mosul from Islamic state.
More than 100,000 civilians, more than half of whom are children remain trapped in Mosul's fragile homes. With little food and water, no electricity, and limited access to health clinics. The Iraqi army puts the number of Isis fighters at roughly 300, down from nearly 6000 when the Battle of Mosul started in October.
Iraqi officials had privately hoped the mosque would be back in their hands before the end of this month's Ramadan fast. Islamic states, a mock news agency refuting Iraq's claims, instead accusing American aircraft of destroying the mosque.