ISIS destroys 7th-century church, historical mosque in Iraq’s Tikrit

ISIS destroys 7th-century church, historical mosque in Iraq’s Tikrit
The Iraqi city of Tikrit saw ISIS blow up the Green Church, one of the oldest Christian churches in the Middle East, and the shrine and historical mosque of Al Arbain, both located in the city center, security sources said on Thursday.

On Wednesday evening, Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) militants bombed the Green Church, built in the 7th century. It belonged to the Assyrian Church of the East, a part of the Christian tradition, and was restored in 2000 by the Saddam Hussein regime.

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The source told Iraqi News that “the militants of ISIS bombed the Green Church in the area of the presidential palaces, with improvised explosive devices that were planted in its surroundings.” The source added that “the bombing resulted in the destruction of the entire church.”

However, it was not the only religious monument that suffered on Thursday. In the morning Islamic State elements dynamited the shrine and historical mosque of Al Arbain – “with a number of improvised explosive devices.”

The religious site contained the tombs of 40 fighters from the early period of Islam’s expansion. And, although Islamic State promotes a return to Islamic roots, it believes worshiping graves to be close to idolatry.

Islamic State militants have blown up several churches, shrines and mosques that attract thousands of people annually across the country. In the provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh they destroyed tombs of the prophets Jonah, George and Daniel. In Mosul, Iraq's largest Christian town, ISIS has destroyed or occupied all 45 local Christian institutions. It has also caused thousands of Christians and religious minorities to flee from their homes.

The recently reported destruction of the church and the shrine occurred in spite of US-led air strikes against Islamic State positions in Syria that started on Tuesday. A series of strikes overnight by the coalition of five countries killed 14 ISIS militants and five civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.