Islamic State militants destroy historic mosque in Mosul

AP, AFP-JIJI

Islamic State militants blew up a mosque and shrine dating back to the 14th century in Mosul on Sunday, local residents said — the latest casualty in a week that has seen half a dozen of the Iraqi city’s most revered holy places destroyed.

Mosul residents said the Prophet Jirjis Mosque and Shrine was bombed and destroyed by the radical jihadist group. They spoke anonymously for fear of reprisal.

The complex was built over the Quraysh cemetery in Mosul in the late 14th century, and included a shrine dedicated to Nabi Jerjis, the Prophet George.

The al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State group captured large swaths of land in western and northern Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in June. The group has imposed a harsh interpretation of Islamic law across all the territory under its control.

Among the mosques destroyed in Mosul last week were the Mosque of the Prophet Sheeth (Seth) and the Mosque of the Prophet Younis, or Jonah. The militants claim that such mosques have become places for apostasy, not prayer.

In a statement published on Kurdish state media late Saturday, Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani said the bombing of churches and mosques in Mosul “is against all the principles of the heavenly religions, humanity, and it is targeting the culture and demographic of the area.”

Also on Sunday, Shiite militiamen in the Iraqi city of Baquba dragged the bodies of Islamic State fighters through the streets and hung them from a bridge and a utility pole.

Two bodies were reported to have been displayed in the center of Baquba, a Shiite-dominated city barely 60 km (40 miles) northeast of Baghdad, but security officials counted at least four.

“Several members of Daash were killed yesterday in a battle just north of Muqdadiyah,” a nearby town, a police captain said, using the Islamic State’s former Arabic acronym.

“Militiamen brought four bodies back and paraded through town in their cars, dragging the corpses behind them,” he said. “Then they hung them in four different spots in Baquba.”

Pictures showed one apparently headless body dangling from a utility post as a passer-by stops to snap a photo with his mobile phone.

Another, wearing the baggy “sherwal” trousers popular with foreign jihadist fighters, is seen hanging from a bridge, next to a banner advertising wedding photography, as traffic passes under.