Saddam Hussein’s Tomb Destroyed As Iraqi Forces Battle ISIS

The tomb of Saddam Hussein has been destroyed, suffering extensive damage as Iraqi forces fight to wrest control of his hometown of Tikrit from ISIS forces.

Armed clashes intensified in the region around Hussein‘s hometown yesterday, the Daily Mail reports, as Iraqi security forces asserted that they would reach the center of Tikrit within 48 hours. Saddam’s tomb, which is located in the village of Ouja, south of Tikrit, has been reduced to a pile of concrete rubble, with just a few support columns and the remains of the tomb’s roof still intact.

@PzFeed: This is what’s left of Saddam Hussein’s tomb in Tikrit.

— Pieter. A. van Wijk (@PieterAvanWijk) March 16, 2015

Though it is unclear which side is responsible for the damage to Saddam’s tomb, as CNN points out, Captain Yasser Nu’ma of the Shiite militias claimed that ISIS forces used the site as an ambush point, setting bombs around the gravesite to target their adversaries.

“This is one of the areas where IS militants massed the most because Saddam’s grave is here,” he noted.

Though the tomb was once covered with posters depicting Hussein, Shiite militia flags and photos of militia leaders have since replaced them in the town, which has been controlled by ISIS since June. Some of Saddam’s remaining loyalists, chafing at the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, aided ISIS in conquering Iraq’s northern territory, a campaign that brought one of the country’s largest cities, Mosul, under the group’s control.

In August, ISIS claimed that Saddam Hussen’s tomb had been completely destroyed, though as the Inquisitr reported at the time, the damage was far less severe. Eight months prior, allies of Saddam had moved the dictator’s body to a secret hiding place away from the tomb, which was vandalized by militants. Photographs of Hussein were torn down and the tomb was set on fire, amid allegations that the graves of Saddam’s sons had been desecrated.

Following the American invasion of Iraq, Saddam Hussein was captured by U.S. soldiers in 2003. An Iraqi tribunal found him guilty of crimes against humanity, and Hussein was put to death in December of 2006. The center of his tomb once featured a bed of flowers that covered the spot in which Hussein’s body was interred.

Capturing the area surrounding Saddam Hussein’s hometown and the region around his tomb is considered a necessary step toward an assault on Mosul, which could come within the next several months.

[Image via the Daily Mail]