The Iraqi government has accused the militant group Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, or ISIS) of bulldozing the ancient site of Nimrud, 30km south of the captured city of Mosul in the north of the country.
Baghdad sources say that ISIL forces looted the 3,250-year-old city, using bulldozers to bring down some of the walls, structures and statues.
The attack on yet another icon of Iraq’s 7,000 year history comes less than a week after videos of ISIL members taking hammer to hundreds of statues and figures in Mosul’s National Museum.
The videos sparked a global outcry with some historians and archaeologists joining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in warning that Iraq’s ancient history is systematically being erased.
ISIL officials say these ancient sites are centers of idolatry and therefore must be destroyed.
Nimrud is an Assyrian city built around 1,250 BCE. Once known to be the capital of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the city housed palaces and temples, including the famed winged lions called lamassu.
A video released by ISIL last week showed its fighters destroying a winged lion at the entrance to Mosul.
There are fears that other UNESCO World Heritage sites such as the remains of Hatra, a major population center during the Parthian Empire more than 2,000 years ago, could also be the target of ISIL fighters.
The BRICS POST with inputs from Agencies