Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says the destruction of an ancient mosque in the city of Mosul is “an official declaration of defeat” by so-called Islamic State (IS).
Iraqi forces say IS blew up the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its famous leaning minaret as jihadists battled to stop advancing pro-government troops.
IS said American aircraft had destroyed the complex, a claim denied by the US.
Aerial photographs show the complex largely destroyed.
The mosque, which was more than 800 years old, was where in July 2014 IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi commanded allegiance in his first and only public appearance following IS’ declaration days earlier of a “caliphate”.
The mosque’s destruction has brought widespread condemnation.
A senior US commander in Iraq said IS had destroyed “one of Mosul and Iraq’s great treasures”.
“This is a crime against the people of Mosul and all of Iraq, and is an example of why this brutal organisation must be annihilated,” Maj Gen Joseph Martin said.