The leaning Al-Hadba minaret towering over the skyline in Mosul as the Iraqi forces advance towards the Old City on June 19, 2017 during the ongoing offensive to retake the last district still held by the Islamic State (IS) group fighters. Mohamed El-Shahed—AFP/Getty Images
4:24 PM ET
(IRBIL, Iraq) — Iraq's Ministry of Defense says the Islamic State group destroyed the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul and the iconic leaning minaret when fighters detonated explosives inside the structures late Wednesday night.
The mosque — also known as Mosul's Great Mosque — is where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a so-called Islamic caliphate in 2014 shortly after the city was overrun by the militants and was seen as a key symbolic prize in the fight for Iraq's second largest city.
Iraqi forces launched a push into Mosul's Old City earlier this week where the last ISIS fighters are holed up with an estimated 100,000 civilians according to the United Nations.
The fight to retake Mosul was launched more than eight months ago and has displaced more than 850,000 people.