The mosque had been well preserved and saved from several threats.

 

In 1986, Ana, 320km west of Baghdad, was flooded after the inauguration of the al-Qadisiya dam, built on the Euphrates River. The then-Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, ordered the preservation of the Ana mosque.

 

Archeological teams aided by army units broke the mosque's tower, or midhana, into 18 pieces and moved them to be re-assembled.

 

The 26-meter midhana survived the flood and other environmental hazards until it was blown up on Thursday evening.

 

The Abbasid dynasty ruled the Muslim world for about five centuries.

 

The 26m-high tower of the Ana
mosque

The second Abbasid caliph, Abu Jafar al-Mansour, built Baghdad in 762, giving it the name of Dar al-Salam (the home of peace).

 

Baghdad remained the capital of the Abbasid dynasty until it was sacked by the Mongols in 1258.

 

Dhafir al-Ani, spokesman for the Iraqi Accordance Front, said: "They are wiping out every Arab Muslim historical site, but at the same the sites which represent foreign occupation across history are being well looked after, like the case with Taq Kisra, the palace of the Persian emperors who ruled Iraq between the third and sixth century."

 

Abu Jafar al-Mansour's monument
before the bombing

Another midhana, the Malwia of Samara, one Iraq's most famous historical sites, was attacked on April 1, 2005.

 

The attackers placed a bomb at the top of the 52-meter tower, and the blast caused serious damage.

 

The Malwia midhana was built in the eighth century when the Abbasid caliph al-Mutasim temporarily moved the capital from Baghdad to Samara.

 

The monument of al-Mansour was also blown up on October 19, 2005, the day Saddam was put on trial.

 

The monument after the bombing
Saddam had asked Iraq's most notable sculptor, Khalid al-Rahal, to make a monument to commemorate Baghdad's founder.

The monument was inaugurated in 1979 and set up in the district that had been named after him, the al-Mansour neighbourhood west of Baghdad.

 

The two-meter-high monument was made of bronze and was put on a pillar.

 

The 14th century tomb of Talha bin Ubeid Allah, one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammed, was bombed in Basra.

 

Iraqi police have closed all the cases in the bombings of Iraq's historical sites for the lack of evidence. 

 

Ala Bashir, an Iraqi painter, sculptor and plastic surgeon, said the attacks on architectural sites are an attack on civilisation. 

 

Work is done on the midhana of
Ana in 1986

"Architecture is a form of art; destroying architectural sites is wiping out a human civilisation," Bashir said.

 

"All I can say is that if those people who attack arts in Iraq are from inside Iraq, then they are ignorant, but if they are from outside Iraq then it is a form of hatred."  

 

Iraq is known for a rich history going back to 5,000 BC.

 

Iraq's historical sites document the volatile past of the country whose wealth has attracted invaders across history.