Islamic State destroying homes in Tikrit as residents flee

The anonymous phone caller had a simple but devastating message for Latif Rajab, an Iraqi oil ministry employee who had fled Tikrit.

“The man on the phone said he was standing outside my home and asked if I would return — knowing that I would never do so,” Mr Rajab said. “Then he said, ­‘listen to this’.”

There was a huge, rumbling ­explosion. When the noise subsided, the man spoke again. “That was your house being blown up,” he told Mr Rajab.

The destruction of houses by Islamic State of anyone suspected of having ties to the government is part of the scorched earth policy that has escalated in recent weeks as the group faces battlefield setbacks across Iraq…