An image of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein printed on copper..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Clashes between Iraqi military and Iranian-backed Shia militias against the Islamic State (IS) in Tikrit has destroyed the mausoleum of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, according to the BBC.
The once opulent memorial has now been reduced to rubble, the result of fierce fighting that has beleaguered Tikrit over the last week. It featured a marble octagon with a bed of fresh flowers at the center, covering the place where the body was buried.
"This is one of the areas where IS militants massed the most because Saddam's grave is here," said Capt Yasser Numa, an official with the militias.
Local Sunni community leaders say the body of the Iraqi despot was removed from the mausoleum late last year and taken to an unknown location.
Last June, ISIS militants seized the city when Iraqi security forces stationed in the area acquiesced to the Islamic State militants in a relatively bloodless takeover.
Saddam Hussein, who was born in Tikrit, was removed from power by American forces in 2003 and was eventually convicted of crimes against humanity and hanged in 2006.
According to the BBC, pro-government forces are estimated to stand around 3,000 fighters along with 20,000 Shia militiamen.