"Spirit of resilience" embodied by destroyed Mosul mosque "must prevail"

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UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova. Photo: UNESCO/Ania Freindorf

The "spirit of resilience" embodied by the destruction of Mosul's iconic Al Nuree Mosque must prevail, and the UN Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will continue to stand by the Iraqi people.

That's the defiant message from UNESCO chief Irina Bokova on Thursday, following news reports that indicate the terrorist group ISIL, or Daesh, was responsible for blowing up the centuries-old mosque.

Matt Wells reports.

Despite denials from Daesh, Iraqi forces said that the extremist group—which is resisting efforts to retake the centre of west Mosul—blew up the iconic mosque, along with the leaning Al Habda Minaret, on Wednesday.

The UNESCO Director-General deplored the destruction of the 845-year-old mosque and minaret, noting that its loss "deepens the wounds of a society already affected by an unprecedented humanitarian tragedy."

Ms Bokova offered UNESCO's renewed solidarity and readiness to "support, restore and rehabilitate cultural heritage wherever possible."

Iraq's Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, reportedly said that the destruction of the ancient mosque was "an official declaration of defeat" by the extremist group.

Since the launch of the offensive to liberate Mosul in October last year, up to 800,000 civilians have been displaced and many are still trapped by Daesh fighters close to the site of the now destroyed Al Nuree Mosque.

Matt Wells, United Nations.

Duration: 51"

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