Militias fighting alongside the Syrian regime of President Bashar Al-Assad destroyed and desecrated the grave of the eighth Umayyad Caliph Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz yesterday, located in the north-west province of Idlib.
Video footage of the destruction emerged on social media yesterday, showing the graves of the Caliph, his wife and his servant damaged and with the contents exhumed and disappeared. The site in which the graves are housed, located in the village of Deir Al-Sharqi in the area of Maarat Al-Nu'man, is seen to be burnt following its capture by the regime and militia forces in February this year.
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According to the Turkish news organisation Daily Sabah, no information on the location of the Caliph's remains have been revealed. Umar Ibn Abdul Aziz, who was a descendent of the companion of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and second Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, is highly respected in the Muslim world as a ruler who enforced justice throughout his short reign of two years and five months in the 8th century.
His reputation, especially notable amid the Umayyad dynasty which many have seen as largely corrupt and decadent, earned him the title of "the fifth rightly-guided Caliph".
This is not the first time such an incident has taken place as Assad regime loyalists have previously exhumed graves after conquering territories.
In February, videos surfaced showing regime forces and militias desecrating and exhuming the graves of numerous opposition fighters and commanders buried in Sunni areas, with other videos showing Syrian soldiers playing with the skulls of exhumed bodies. Similar scenes were also reportedly witnessed back in 2015 when regime forces exhumed dozens of graves in Homs and stole the corpses.