BAGHDAD (TIP): Islamic State militants “bulldozed” the ancient Nimrud archaeological site near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Thursday using heavy military vehicles, the government said.
A statement from Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities didn’t elaborate on the extent of the damage, saying only that the group continues to “defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity” with this latest act.
Nimrud is a 13th century B.C. Assyrian archaeological site located on the Tigris River just south of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, which was captured by the Islamic State group in June. The extremists, who control a third of Iraq and Syria, have attacked other archaeological and religious sites, claiming that they promote apostasy.
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Earlier this week a video emerged on militant websites showing Islamic State militants with sledgehammers destroying ancient artifacts at the Mosul museum, sparking global outrage.
Last year, the militants destroyed the Mosque of the Prophet Younis – or Jonah – and the Mosque of the Prophet Jirjis, two revered ancient shrines in Mosul. They also threatened to destroy Mosul’s 850-year old Crooked Minaret, but local residents surrounded the structure, preventing the militants from approaching.
Iraq’s national museum in Baghdad opened its doors to the public last week for the first time in 12 years in a move Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said was to defy efforts “to destroy the heritage of mankind and Iraq’s civilization.”
The Islamic State group has imposed a harsh and violent version of Islamic law in the territories it controls and has terrorized religious minorities. It has released gruesome videos online showing the beheading of captives, including captured Western journalists and aid workers.
A U.S.-led coalition has been striking the group since August, and Iraqi forces launched an offensive this week to try to retake the militant-held city of Tikrit, on the main road linking Baghdad to Mosul.