Daesh destroys ancient city of Hatra
The ancient city of Hatra is a UNESCO World Heritage site that has survived war and repeated attacks by the Roman Empire. (AFP/File)
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ISIL (also known as Daesh) has posted a video online purportedly showing the militants destroying a major world heritage site in Iraq's ancient city of Hatra.
The footage posted online late Friday shows the ISIL members smashing the walls and shooting with assault rifles at invaluable statues at an archaeological site in the city of Hatra in Iraq’s Nineveh Province.
The video, published on a website frequently used by ISIL, shows the militants using sledgehammers and pickaxes to reduce ancient statutes to crumbles. Other militants use Kalashnikov rifles to shoot at the priceless objects at the archaeological site, which is recognized as a World Heritage by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The site was attacked last month by ISIL militants, according to residents and local officials. No clear estimate has been made on the extent of damage on the historic place as the city is located in the territory which is under the control of ISIL.
Parts of the video are dedicated to statements in Arabic by ISIL members who apparently say they destroyed the site because people worshiped it instead of God. The group has always tried to use religion as a cover for its murderous, inhuman activities in Iraq and Syria, where it has killed thousands of civilians and security forces over the past four years.
ISIL has already destroyed other notable sites in the territory north of Iraq. Back in March, ISIL bulldozed the 3,000-year-old city of Nimrud, one of the world's most important historical sites. The destruction triggered worldwide condemnation, with the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon calling it a “war crime.”
Another video in late February showed ISIL destroying the ancient artifacts at a major museum in the northern city of Mosul, the capital of Nineveh and one of the group’s major strongholds in Iraq. ISIL also burned hundreds of priceless books and manuscripts in Mosul Library and Mosul University in January.
Mosul and the surrounding areas were once occupied by the ancient Mesopotamians, who established a great civilization in the lands between Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The artifacts in the Nineveh museum, which were mostly from the archaeological site in Hatra, were supposed to have great cultural and historic significance.
ISIL has already razed to the ground a number of mosques in Syria and Iraq, many of them belonging to the early years of the Islamic civilization. They have also destroyed tombs belonging to revered Shia and Sunni figures.