Destruction of Jonah’s Tomb and other cultural treasures seems to be the last straw for residents.
That seems to be the reaction of local Muslims who have endured the nearly two month long occupation of Mosul and other towns in northern Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
After the destruction of historical monuments the Islamic State, the first local movement of armed resistance against the jihadists has taken form on the border between Syria and Iraq, Fides news agency and other media have reported.
According to local witnesses, last weekend at least five Islamist militants were killed in targeted killings carried out by groups of young people who have organized themselves in armed resistance groups—the so-called Mosul Brigades—to counter the so-called Islamic Caliphate.
The July 24 destruction at the hands of Sunni extremists of a revered shrine—believed to be the tomb of the prophet Jonah—appeared to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. The Islamists threaten to continue to raze religious sites considered by them as an expression of idolatrous worship.
The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris also reported that outrage at the destruction of Mosul’s ancient religious shrines has led to “the first signs of resistance” against the Islamic State.
“A newly formed militant group calling itself the Mosul Battalions claims to have killed nine members of the extremist Islamic State in recent days in knife and sniper attacks as retaliation for the destruction of the religious sites,” Morris wrote Wednesday.
But she said the killings could not be independently verified and have not been acknowledged by Islamic State.
“There are unorganized groups fighting ISIS now,” Mosul resident Khalis Jumah told The New York Times yesterday. “If we had the power and the supplies, we could have kicked ISIS out of Mosul by now.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said the same day that his government has allocated more than $850 million to assist those displaced by ISIS’s takeover of much of northern Iraq. He called on Sunnis remaining in those areas to take up arms against the insurgents, according to AP.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi ambassador to the Holy See has lamented the ongoing ISIS persecution of Christians, stating that they are an important and historic part of the country’s origins.
“Right now with the entrance of these jihadists, ISIS, they have imposed the sword and want to kill the Christians,” Habbib M.H. Al-Sadr told Catholic News Agency July 24.
“This is outside of our culture, of our history, because the Christians are a fundamental, historic component of Iraq…they have origins here,” he continued.
Al-Sadr, a Shiite Muslim, has been Iraq’s ambassador to the Holy See since 2010.
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