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CAIRO (AP) — Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, is locked under the rule of extremists from the Islamic State group trying to purge it of everything they see as contradicting their stark vision of Islam.
A trove of photographs now housed at the Library of Congress offers a glimpse of a different Mosul — before wars, insurgency, sectarian strife and now radicals' rule. The scenes were taken in the autumn of 1932 by staff from the American Colony Photo Department during a visit to Iraq at the end of the British mandate.
The photos show many of the sites that have now borne the brunt of the Islamic State group's wrath. Since capturing the city in June, the militants destroyed at least 30 shrines and historic sites they see as promoting idolatry and heresy.
Among the sites were the tombs of figures revered as prophets by Muslims, including Seth, said to be the third son of Adam and Eve, and Jonah, who in stories told in the Bible and the Quran was swallowed by a whale. One site the extremists couldn't destroy was the 840-year-old Crooked Minaret, a minaret that leans like Italy's Tower of Pisa. When the militants came to blow it up, residents formed a human chain around it to protect it.
In one of the old images, the Crooked Minaret towers over a street in central Mosul, adjacent to a Yazidi shrine. The shrine was gone long before militants overtook the city, but it reveals a time when different religious faiths could coexist here. Yazidis belong to an ancient sect that the radicals consider heretical, and Islamic State group fighters have driven tens of thousands of Yazidis from their homes when they seized their towns last month.
As the United States and the international community are grappling with how to battle the militants, who now control territory stretching from northern Syria to the outskirts of Baghdad, here is a look at scenes from Mosul in more peaceful times and today under the rule of the Islamic State group.
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