Ancient Mosul mosque demolished, the latest holy site militants have destroyed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 9:37pm
UPDATED : Monday, 28 July, 2014, 9:37pm

Militants from the Islamic State group blew up a mosque and shrine dating back to the 14th century in Mosul, 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 on Sunday. 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 small shrine dedicated to Nabi Jirjis, or the Prophet George.

Islamic State, the al-Qaeda breakaway group formerly known as ISIL, captured large swathes of land in western and northern Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, which it took in June. The group has imposed a self-styled caliphate in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria, imposing its harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

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, said to be the burial place of the Prophet Jonah, who in stories from both the Bible and Koran is swallowed by a whale. The militants claim the mosques have become places for apostasy.

"This most recent outrage is yet another demonstration of the terrorist group's intention to shatter Iraq's shared heritage and identity," the top UN envoy in Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, said.

Since the Islamic State launched its blitz across Iraq, more than a million people have fled their homes, according to the United Nations. Many have escaped to Iraq's semi-autonomous Kurdish region, which has remained relatively stable since the 2003 US-led invasion.

In a statement published by Kurdish state media, Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani said the bombing of churches and mosques in Mosul "is against all the principles of the heavenly religions [and] humanity".

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse