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Mosul…City of Ancient Treasures | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A general view shows the Nuri Moaque’s leaning minaret in the Iraqi city of Mosul prior to its destruction by ISIS. (AFP)

Baghdad – The city of Mosul, which was declared ISIS-free on July 10, is the second largest city of Iraq and is known with its historic fabrics and treasures.

ISIS seized control of Mosul (350 km north of Baghdad) through a lightening attack in June 2014. Ensuing heavy fights between the extremists and Iraqi forces partially destroyed the city.

Mosul, through which runs the Tigris River, is the largest city in the oil-rich Nineveh province in northern Iraq, and was completely recaptured by Iraqi forces in August.

Sunni Muslims make up the majority of the city located in a region dominated by a Kurdish population, where Turkmen, Shi’ites, Christians and other minorities also live.

Mosul is located at the crossroads of a highway network in northern Iraq, linking Iraq to Syria in the west and to Turkey in the north.

The city was famous for the production of “muslin”, a type of cotton fabric. It is also known for its archaeological sites and gardens before becoming a field of daily violence after the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

Since July 2014, ISIS destroyed Shi’ite mosques and tombs, some of which were built centuries ago. Mots notable of these landmarks was the shrine of the Prophet Younis.

Destroyed in the battles and bombardments in the center of the city was the Nuri Mosque and its minaret dating back to the 12th century.

Extremists also burned thousands of books and manuscripts found in the great heritage museum in Mosul.

History of Mosul

Muslims entered the city of Mosul in 641, which became an important commercial center in the region, where caravans met between the Levant and Persia. The city reached the peak of its prosperity in the 12th century before falling in the hands of the Mongols in 1262. Then the rule moved to the Persians and Ottomans.

In 1918, Britain joined this oil-rich region to Iraq, which at the time was under British mandate. This angered France, which sought to join Mosul to Syria, which was under its mandate. Turkey objected to this move, but the League of Nations approved it in 1925.

In the late 20th century, Mosul was considered one of the main strongholds of Iraqis supporting toppled President Saddam Hussein. After that, Iraq fell into chaos, which saw it fall under ISIS hands before the terror group was expelled from it.