In a disturbing wave of violence in Mosul this month, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) terrorist group destroyed churches, monasteries, and statues, and disturbed the grave of the biblical prophet Jonah.
A video posted on YouTube July 9 shows a tomb being destroyed with a sledgehammer, and Nineveh officials said the grave is "almost certainly" that of Jonah.
ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or ISIL, seized control of Mosul weeks ago. They also control the Iraqi cities of Baiji and Fallujah, and parts of Syria. The Sunni Muslim extremists have persecuted, raped and killed thousands of Christians and Shiite Muslims across the two countries. Churches and Shiite shrines have been bombed, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have fled the area because of the violence.
The latest acts of terrorism, according to Nineveh Police spokesman Major Ahmed alObaidi, occurred on a single day.
"They torched 11 churches and monasteries out of 35 scattered across the city of Mosul, and hours later destroyed statues of poets, literary and historical figures of which Mosul has long been proud," he told Iraqi News on July 4.
The mosque containing Jonah's tomb has been under the terrorist group's control since they took over the city, local official Zuhair al-Chalabi said.
"It is still held by them," he told the Iraqi News. "There is almost certain information stating the fact that the elements of ISIL dug up the grave of the Prophet Younis (Jonah)."
The grave of biblical prophet Seth was also destroyed, according to Major alObaidi.
Three Sunni clerics, Khattab Hassan, 43, Riyadh al-Wandi, 39, and Abdul Ghafoor Salman, 48, rejected ISIS and refused to flee Mosul. They were killed by the terrorists in separate parts of the city.
Chaldean Catholic Church leader Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako warned European Union (EU) leaders last week that the increasing violence and destruction could lead to the eradication of Christians from Iraq.
Patriarch Sako addressed EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy and members of the European Commission and Parliament in a meeting convened by Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.
"There's so much panic that few Christians see their future in Iraq," he told the leaders. "Muslims are also fleeing and they have found shelter in the nearby villages with Christian families and in Church buildings."
Sako urged the EU to help quell the violence and persecution.
"We cannot remain indifferent to their situation," he insisted. "The EU should do its utmost to assist them and create conditions that Christians, the oldest known inhabitants of that region, can remain there in conditions of equality and mutual respect."
ISIS, led by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, has increased in power substantially since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq in December 2011. The U.N. reported that over 2,400 people were killed in Iraq last month.