Top of ancient Iraq minaret blown up

The top of a towering centuries-old spiral minaret in the Iraqi city of Samarra has been blown up, damaging one of the country's prized national treasures.

    The spiral minaret was built in the 8th century

    The top tier of the 52m Malwiya tower was blown off in an attack by fighters, said police Lieutenant Colonel Mahmud Muhammad on Friday.

    The explosion left debris on the tower's winding ramps and a jagged hole on the top level, an AFP reporter said. 

    The unique yellow sandstone tower in Samarra, an ancient city on the banks of the Tigris river, was completed in 850 CE by the Islamic Abbasid dynasty. 

    US troops had been stationed in the tower until two weeks ago. US and Iraqi troops had draped an Iraqi flag from the minaret after retaking Samarra from rebels last October, and locals accused US forces of using it as a sniper position. 

    The minaret, considered an architectural wonder, was built by Abbasid ruler or Caliph al-Mutawakkli after the dynasty made Samarra the seat of the Islamic world in the 8th century. 

    Proposal

    Iraq proposed that Unesco make the minaret a world heritage site in 2000. 

    Famed British archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler once paid a lavish tribute to the Malwiya minaret. "What matters most about the Samarra minaret is not its formal design, but its startling originality. Strikingly bold and simple in design, functional, elemental, finely proportioned, comfortable to the eye.

    "Here we have in the ninth century many qualities which bridge the centuries. The Malwiya is truly a great and rather lonely masterpiece." 

    Many of Iraq's archaeology sites have been plundered by thieves or damaged by US-led military operations since the US invasion two years ago.

    SOURCE: AFP


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Pick your team and answer as many correct questions in three minutes.

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    Why did Bush go to war in Iraq?

    No, it wasn't because of WMDs, democracy or Iraqi oil. The real reason is much more sinister than that.