MOSUL - The militants from the Islamic State group that controls large parts of Iraq have blown up a shrine in the city of Mosul, an official and witnesses said Saturday.
Militants destroyed the Nabi Shiyt (Prophet Seth (AS)) shrine in Mosul, the de facto Iraqi capital of the “caliphate” proclaimed last month by Islamic State (IS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“IS militants stopped people from coming close, set explosives in and around the shrine and then detonated them as a crowd looked on,” one resident who witnessed the demolition told AFP. Seth is revered in Christianity, Islam and Judaism as the third son of Adam and Eve.
Sami al-Massoudi, the deputy head of the endowment agency overseeing holy sites, confirmed that militants blew up the Nabi Shiyt shrine and added that they took some of the artefacts to an unknown location.
“These people follow this impossible religious doctrine according to which they must destroy or kill anything or anybody deviating from their views,” he said. “That simply has nothing to do with Islam.”
The latest destruction comes a day after IS militants completely levelled the reputed tomb of Jonah (Prophet Yunus (AS)) in Mosul, sparking an outcry among religious officials. “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.
Moqtada Sadr, a cleric whose followers have taken up arms to protect endangered holy sites, also condemned the demolition of the Prophet Yunus (AS) shrine. “He was a prophet for all religions,” Sadr said in a statement, adding that the perpetrators of the desecration “don’t deserve to live”.
Meanwhile, Islamic State fighters accused of atrocities in Syria are expected to be added to a list being drawn by the United Nations of possible war crime indictees, the chief rights investigator has said.
Brazilian Paulo Pinheiro, who heads the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, said incriminating evidence against IS would be easier to collect because “there are indications of a strong chain of command.”
“They are good candidates for the list,” said Pinheiro, who briefed the UN Security Council on the results of their inquiry.
“I can assure you that we are collecting information on perpetrators from all sides including non-state armed groups and ISIS,” he told reporters.
“I am not in a position to say who is winning the World Cup of human rights violations. Both sides are doing horrific things and they will continue if there is no accountability.”
The UN Security Council failed in May to agree on a formal request to the International Criminal Court to take action toward prosecutions after Russia and China vetoed the move.
Set up in September 2011, the Commission of Inquiry has collected witness accounts, satellite photographs and other documents to build up its caseload of human rights violations, although none of the members have traveled to Syria. The war crimes list being drawn up by the inquiry remains confidential but Pinheiro said it included intelligence chiefs, heads of detention centers that have torture chambers and military commanders “who target civilians.” Islamic State fighters have been accused by rights groups of summary executions, abductions, murder among other atrocities since they launched their offensive last month and proclaimed a “caliphate” that encompasses parts of Syria and Iraq.