London: In an attack that marked the latest blow to Iraq`s religious and cultural heritage, the Islamic State (IS) has apparently destroyed Christian and Shia Muslim shrines in northern Iraq, including a fourth-century memorial built by an Assyrian king.
Photographs released by "Nineveh province media office" showed the apparent destruction of the holy sites in Hamdaniya, northern Iraq, reported The Guardian.
A series of images showed the tomb of Mar Behnam, a fourth-century site built by the Assyrian King Senchareb and maintained by the Syriac Orthodox church, reduced to rubble. Other photo showed the destruction of Shia mosques in the region.
Ignatius Joseph III Yonan, patriarch of Antioch and all the East of the Syrians of the Syriac Catholic church, called on the international community to help the minorities stay in their land and defend their rights as citizens. "We are not imported into our lands in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon," he said.
While remarking that condemnation was not enough, Patriarch Ignatius warned that the destiny of the Christians and the other minorities in Iraq was in great danger.
Most of Hamdaniya`s Christians, both Chaldeans and Syriacs, fled the region as IS advanced through northern Iraq last summer in a lightning offensive, desecrating churches and killing or forcibly converting minorities.
The terror group burnt thousands of "rare" manuscripts in the Mosul library, burnt and ransacked its museum, bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud, and attacked the fortress city of Hatra recently.