The tomb of former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is destroyed in fighting near Tikrit between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION The tomb of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein has been destroyed in fighting near Tikrit where Iraqi forces supported by Iran-backed Shi'ite militias have been trying to take control of the city from the militants of the Islamic State. The once large octagonal, domed building in Awja, 150 km (95 miles) north of Baghdad, was severely damaged. The building appeared to have been burned then destroyed. The dome was damaged but remained largely intact. Fearful that Shi'ite militias would harm the tomb, Saddam's Sunni tribal allies moved his body from a family plot early last year. The tribal chief would not give details on where Saddam's body was taken. Saddam was hanged in 2006 after being convicted of crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Shi'ite villagers after a failed assassination bid in 1982. Shi'ite militias are positioned near Saddam's grave site to fight the Islamic State, the Sunni militants who swept through northern Iraq in June 2014 and declared a caliphate. Iraq said on Monday (March 16) it had put its Tikrit offensive on hold and senior officials called for more air strikes to dislodge Islamic State militants who have laid explosives across Saddam Hussein's home city and still hold its central districts. The offensive, the largest yet against Islamic State insurgents, has been stalled for four days after Iraqi security forces and mainly Shi'ite militia pushed into Tikrit last week.