RELIGION
07/07/2014 01:44 pm ET Updated Jul 07, 2014

ISIS Destroys Shiite Mosques And Shrines In Iraq, Dangerously Fracturing Country (PHOTOS)

In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, smoke and debris go up in the air as Shiite's Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque explodes in Mosul, Iraq. Images posted online show that Islamic extremists have destroyed at least 10 ancient shrines and Shiite mosques in territory - the city of Mosul and the town of Tal Afar - they have seized in northern Iraq in recent weeks. (AP Photo)

The ISIS militant group is further advancing its extreme religious agenda by destroying Shiite mosques and Islamic shrines around the ancient Iraqi city of Mosul, which they captured last month. Al-Arabiya reported that the damage extends to at least four shrines to Sunni or Sufi figures, and six Shiite mosques in the northern province of Nineveh.

Pictures surfacing on social media this weekend showed the destruction, accomplished with bulldozers and explosives. They appeared on a militant website verified by the Associated Press as an outlet for official ISIS statements. The photos were posted under the headline, “Demolishing shrines and idols in the state of Nineveh," according to RT.

The gains made by ISIS have highlighted the sectarian divides that have long contributed to the instability of Iraq as a country. Last month, the Shiite Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, one of Iraq's most influential religious figures, issued a call for Iraqis to join the government forces in fighting against ISIS.

ISIS is an extremist Sunni group which recently declared the re-establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, exhorting Muslims all over the world to join their cause. Their invitation does not extend to the Shiite sect, seen as heretical by some Sunnis.

Kenneth M. Pollack of the Brookings Institution sees the rise of ISIS as disastrous for the future of Iraq. He told The Washington Post, "This is the start of the Iraqi civil war that was so obviously going to break out after we washed our hands of it."

See photos here:

  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Shiite's Jawad Husseiniya mosque explodes in Tal Afar, Iraq.
  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Shiite's Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque explodes in Mosul, Iraq.
  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, smoke goes up in the air as Shiite's Jawad Husseiniya mosque explodes in Tal Afar, Iraq.
  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, smoke and debris go up in the air as Shiite's Al-Qubba Husseiniya mosque explodes in Mosul, Iraq.
  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, Shiite's Saad bin Aqeel Husseiniya shrine explodes in Tal Afar, Iraq.
  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, smoke and debris go up in the air as Shiite's Saad bin Aqeel Husseiniya shrine explodes in Tal Afar, Iraq.
  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a bulldozer destroys Sunni's Ahmed al-Rifai shrine and tomb in Mahlabiya district outside of Tal Afar, Iraq.
  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a bulldozer destroys Sunni's Ahmed al-Rifai shrine and tomb in Mahlabiya district outside of Tal Afar, Iraq.
  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a bulldozer moves to destroy a monument called "The girl's tomb" in Mosul, Iraq.
  • In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremi
    ASSOCIATED PRESS
    In this undated photo posted on a militant website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, a bulldozer destroys a monument called "The girl's tomb" in Mosul, Iraq.
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