Addressing yesterday’s destruction of the 800-year-old Grand Nuri Mosque in western Mosul’s Old City, Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi insisted that ISIS blew the building up as a “formal declaration of defeat” and an admission that they can’t hold the city from advancing Iraqi forces.
Though the Iraqi military has, over the course of the last nine months, taken the vast majority of the city of Mosul, and Iraqi officials are insisting for the umpteenth time they expect to declare outright victory in a few days, it may be hasty to declare this as an outright defeat of ISIS.
Indeed, ISIS was a terrorist organization long before its territorial gains, and has been expected to go back traditional terrorist/insurgent tactics with the loss of its territory. ISIS’ survival of the loss of Mosul has never been in any real doubt.
ISIS continues to deny that they blew up the mosque anyhow, insisting it was a US airstrike. Even if it does turn out to have been ISIS that did so, however, blowing up a large, historically significant building does not appear to be so much “defeat” as routine terror tactics.