Ukraine says Russia bombed mosque named after Ottoman conqueror in Greek-founded Mariupol

Mechetʹ Suleymana I Roksolany The Sultan Suleiman Mosque, is located in Mariupol, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine

A mosque hosting civilians has been bombed in Mariupol, where thousands of people have been under siege for days, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.

According to the ministry, there were 86 civilians of Turkish origin inside the mosque, as well as 34 children.

"The mosque of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Roxolana (Hurrem Sultan) in Mariupol was shelled by Russian invaders. More than 80 adults and children are hiding there from the shelling, including citizens of Turkey," the ministry said in a Twitter message.

It has not been clarified until now when the bombing took place.

A spokeswoman for the embassy, ​​citing information from the city mayor, said they had taken refuge in the mosque along with others seeking refuge from the Russian attack on the besieged port in the Sea of ​​Azov.

"There are serious communication problems in Mariupol and there is no opportunity to approach them," she explained.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been trapped in Mariupol for more than a week without food, water, heat or electricity amid the cold. Efforts to establish a ceasefire have repeatedly failed.

Mariupol is also the base of the Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi unit of the Ukrainian Republican Guard, which falls under the command of the Interior Ministry.

It is recalled that only days before Russian troops started crossing into Ukraine, the Azov Battalion killed an ethnic Greek and short another two for only speaking Russian.

A 2016 UN report found that:

"In Shyrokyne, a key location in the ‘grey zone’ between the Government-controlled city of Mariupol and the town of Novoazovsk controlled by the armed groups, OHCHR documented extensive use of civilian buildings and locations by the Ukrainian military and the Azov regiment, and looting of civilian property, leading to displacement."

The UN in another report found that when compared to the previous period, there was a 51% increase in Donbass (areas controlled by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine) casualties between February 1 and July 31 2021.

This accounted for 62 killed and wounded civilians. 81% of civilians died from Ukrainian shelling, including from the Azov Battalion.

The city of Mariupol was established by Greeks in the 18th century that were invited to escape Muslim persecution in Crimea by Catherine the Great.

The Crimean Greeks established new towns and cities in the Azov region, including Mariupol.

READ MORE: Why do so many cities in Ukraine and Crimea have Greek sounding names?