Saddam Hussein’s tomb has been almost completely destroyed in fighting near Tikrit, Iraq.
Footage filmed by the Associated Press shows that all that remains standing of the once-lavish mausoleum in the village of al-Awja are some pillars.
Iraqi forces and Iranian-backed Shia militia are battling to drive Islamic State (ISIS) militants from Tikrit.
In 2014, the local Sunni population said they had removed the former Iraqi leader’s body and taken it to an unknown location.
The capture of the tomb came as fighting intensified north and south of Tikrit on March 15 as Iraqi security forces vowed to reach the city centre within 48 hours.
The footage shows the mausoleum, south of the city, reduced to concrete rubble.
Poster-sized pictures of Saddam Hussein that once covered the tomb have been replaced with Shia militia flags and pictures of militia leaders, including Iranian General Qassem Soleimani who advises the Shia militias.
There are suspicions among many in Iraq’s Sunni community that Saddam Hussein’s tomb was deliberately destroyed by the Shia militias.
AP said that its crew was embedded with the Iraqi military and may have been subject to reporting restrictions.
“This is one of the areas where ISIS militants massed the most because Saddam’s grave is here,” said Captain Yasser Numa, an official with the militias.
“The ISIS militants set an ambush for us by planting bombs around.”
ISIS said in August 2014 that the tomb had been completely destroyed but local officials denied this, saying it had been ransacked and suffered only minor damage.
Saddam Hussein, who was from Tikrit, was captured by US forces in 2003.
An Iraqi tribunal convicted him of crimes against humanity for the killings of Shia Muslims and Kurds and hanged him in 2006. Saddam Hussein’s body had been kept in the mausoleum since 2007.
The mausoleum featured a marble octagon with a bed of fresh flowers at the centre, covering the place where Saddam Hussein’s body was buried.
According to Iraqi media, loyalists removed Saddam Hussein’s remains last year amid fears that it would be disturbed in the fighting.
Tikrit was overrun by ISIS in June 2014 and several hundred militants are believed to be holding out there.
ISIS insurgents in Iraq have seized the city of Tikrit, their second major gain after capturing Mosul on Tuesday, security officials say.
Tikrit, the hometown of former leader Saddam Hussein, lies 95 miles north of the capital Baghdad.
Iraqi PM Nouri Maliki vowed to fight back against the jihadists and punish those in the security forces who fled offering little or no resistance.
The insurgents are from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
ISIS insurgents in Iraq have seized the city of Tikrit, their second major gain after capturing Mosul (photo AFP/Getty Images)
ISIS, which is also known as ISIL, is an offshoot of al-Qaeda.
The Islamist group controls considerable territory in eastern Syria and western and central Iraq, in a campaign to set up a Sunni militant enclave straddling the border.
There were also reports on Wednesday of fighting further south, in Samarra, 70 miles north of Baghdad.
Separately, at least 21 people were killed and 45 hurt by a suicide bomber at a Shia meeting in Baghdad, police said.
As many as 500,000 people fled Mosul after the militants attacked the city. The head of the Turkish mission in Mosul and almost 50 consulate staff are being held by the militants, Turkish officials say.
Turkey’s foreign minister warned there would be “harsh retaliation” if any of its citizens were harmed.
The insurgents moved quickly south, entering the town of Baiji late on Tuesday.
There were heavy clashes reported in Tikrit, with dozens of insurgents attacking security forces near the headquarters of the Salaheddin provincial government in the city centre.
AFP news agency quoted police and witnesses as saying there was fighting at the northern entrance to Samarra.
Earlier PM Nouri Maliki vowed to fight back against the militants. He has asked parliament to declare a state of emergency.
In a live TV address, he said a “conspiracy” had taken place in Mosul and surrounding Nineveh province.
Nouri Maliki said he did not want to apportion blame for who had ordered the security personnel “to retreat and cause chaos”.