The tomb of Iraq's late dictator Saddam Hussein has been virtually leveled in heavy clashes between ISIS militants and Iraqi forces in a fight for control of the city of Tikrit. Fighting intensified to the north and south of Saddam Hussein's hometown yesterday as Iraqi security forces vowed to reach the center of Tikrit within 48 hours. Video from the village of Ouja, just south of Tikrit, shows all that remains of Hussein's once-lavish tomb are the support columns that held up the roof. Poster-sized pictures of Saddam, which once covered the mausoleum, are now nowhere to be seen amid the mountains of concrete rubble. Instead, Shiite militia flags and photos of militia leaders mark the predominantly Sunni village.
An official with the Shiite militias says ISIS militants set an ambush by planting bombs around the tomb. ISIS has controlled Tikrit since June, when it waged its lightning offensive that saw Iraq's second-largest city, Mosul, come under their control. ISIS was helped in its conquest of northern Iraq by Saddam loyalists, including military veterans, who appealed to Sunnis who felt victimized by Baghdad's Shiite-dominated government. ISIS claimed in August that Saddam's tomb had been completely destroyed, but local officials said it suffered only minor damage after being ransacked and burned.