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Iraqi PM retires 2 top-ranking security officers

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BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s military spokesman says the prime minister has removed the chief of the army’s ground forces and the head of the federal police from their posts.

Lt. Gen. Qassim al-Moussawi says Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki signed the papers Saturday to retire Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, commander of the army’s ground forces, and Lt. Gen. Mohsen al-Kaabi, the federal police chief.

Al-Moussawi says both men leave their jobs with their pensions. No replacements have been named.

The dismissals are part of al-Maliki’s shakeup of the security forces after their near collapse in the face of a sweeping militant offensive led by the Islamic State extremist group.

Last month, al-Maliki retired three generals who had been deployed in the north and ordered legal proceedings against them.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

Images posted online show that Islamic extremists have destroyed at least 10 ancient shrines and Shiite mosques in territory they have seized in northern Iraq in recent weeks.

The photographs, on a website that frequently carries official statements from the Islamic State extremist group, document the destruction in the city of Mosul and the town of Tal Afar.

Some of the photos show bulldozers plowing through walls, while others show explosives demolishing the buildings in a cloud of smoke and rubble.

Residents from both Mosul and Tal Afar confirmed the destruction of the sites.

Sunni extremists consider Shiites Muslims heretics, and the veneration of saints apostasy.