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Militants blow up mosque in Iraq

BAGHDAD — Militants from the Islamic State group blew up a mosque and shrine dating to the 14th century in Mosul on Sunday, residents said, the latest of a half dozen of the Iraqi city’s most revered places to be targeted.

The residents said the prophet Jirjis Mosque and Shrine was destroyed by the jihadist group. They spoke anonymously for fear of reprisal. The complex was built over the Quraysh cemetery and included a small shrine dedicated to Nabi Jerjis, the prophet George.

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The Islamic State, a breakaway group from Al Qaeda, captured large swaths of land in western and northern Iraq, including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, which was overrun in June. The group has imposed a self-styled caliphate in territory they control in Iraq and Syria, imposing their harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

Among the mosques destroyed in Mosul last week was the Mosque of the prophet Younis, or Jonah, said to be the burial place of the figure who was swallowed by a whale in stories from both the Bible and Koran.

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The militants say such mosques have become places for apostasy, not prayer.

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

In a statement Saturday, Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barzani said the bombing of churches and mosques ‘‘is against all the principles of the heavenly religions.’’

Associated Press

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