Militants with the Islamic State jihadist group have demolished shrines and mosques holy to Shiite Islam – their sworn enemy – and posted a detailed online photo essay depicting before and after shots of the destruction in the region of Mosul that involved bulldozers and explosives.
The group, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, seized the northern Iraqi city last month, enraging Shiites and sending Christian residents fleeing over fear for their future under hardline Islamic rule.
While photos of Christian sites were not part of the 21-photo social media display, residents reported that two cathedrals had been taken over by the Islamist group, which continued to occupy the sites.
In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Shiite's Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque explodes in Mosul, Iraq. Images posted online show that Islamic extremists have destroyed at least 10 ancient shrines and Shiite mosques in territory - the city of Mosul and the town of Tal Afar - they have seized in northern Iraq in recent weeks. (AP Photo)
Agence France-Presse reported that six Shiite mosques had been destroyed, along with at least four shrines to Sunni or Sufi figures in Mosul and Tal Afar. The Shiite sites were detonated with explosives, while the other sites were knocked down by bulldozer.
AFP noted that a statement accompanying the photos was titled, "Demolishing shrines and idols in the state of Nineveh" whose capital is Mosul.
“Sunni extremists consider Shiites Muslims heretics, and the veneration of saints apostasy,” noted the Associated Press.
TheBlaze is unable to independently authenticate the photos; however, scholars who follow Islamist militants groups linked to the photo essay circulating on jihadist social media accounts.
The AP reported also that it had verified the photos.
An employee of the Chaldean cathedral in Mosul told AFP that militants had occupied it along with the Syrian Orthodox cathedral in the city after Christians had fled.
Upon taking over the buildings, the militants reportedly took down crosses and replaced them with the black jihadi flag of the newly-declared Islamic State.
In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a bulldozer destroys Sunni's Ahmed al-Rifai shrine and tomb in Mahlabiya district outside of Tal Afar, Iraq. (AP Photo)
"We feel very sad for the demolition of these shrines, which we inherited from our fathers and grandfathers," Ahmed, a 51-year-old resident of Mosul, told AFP. "They are landmarks in the city."