Isis ‘bulldozes’ Nimrud: UNESCO condemns destruction of ancient Assyrian site as a ‘war crime’

Iraq’s antiquities ministry said the extremists continue to ‘defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity’

Isis militants intensified their efforts to destroy invaluable historical landmarks in Iraq after “bulldozing” the ancient Assyrian archaeological site of Nimrud near Mosul.

The antiquities ministry in Baghdad said Isis used heavy military vehicles to destroy parts of the city on Thursday, just weeks after it was filmed smashing historical artefacts with sledgehammers.

Qais Rashid, the  Iraqi Deputy Tourism and Antiquities Minister, said he believes Isis may have removed all the “precious tablets” from the walls of Nimrud before bulldozing the site, Elijah J. Magnier, Al Rai’s chief correspondent, told The Independent.

“We were aware Isis could have looted Nineveh but was impossible for us to remove a city like Nimrud,” he was quoted as saying.

The head of the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO condemned the deliberate destruction of cultural heritage as tantamount to a “war crime”.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova said in a statement: “We cannot remain silent. The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime.

Isis militants attack ancient artifacts with sledgehammers in the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq.Isis militants attack ancient artifacts with sledgehammers in the Ninevah Museum in Mosul, Iraq.“I call on all of those who can, especially youth, in Iraq and elsewhere, to do everything possible to protect this heritage, to claim it as their own, and as the heritage of the whole of humanity.” Ms Bokova warned “the survival of the Iraqi culture and society” is at stake.

The Independent reported threats from Isis that it would destroy Nimrud after it devastated Mosul Museum in February.

IS militants knocking statues off their plinths in the Mosul museum and smashing them to pieces with sledgehammers.IS militants knocking statues off their plinths in the Mosul museum and smashing them to pieces with sledgehammers.Men filmed destroying archaeological pieces reportedly told bystanders they would continue their path of destruction in Nimrud.

Nimrud was one of the most important cities of the Assyrian empire and served as the main residence for the dynasty’s kings until 727 BC.

UNESCO says the site, first known as Kahlka, was founded more than 3,300 years ago.

The true extent of the damage remains unclear. A spokesperson for UNESCO said it was unable to clarify exactly which parts had undergone the most damage.

The site, which sits 20 miles south of Mosul on the banks of the Tigris river, was where treasures were discovered in royal tombs in the 1980s, which is considered one of the 20th century’s most significant archaeological finds, according to the Associated Press

SOURCE:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/isis-militants-bulldoze-ancient-assyrian-site-of-nimrud-10089745.html

Categories: Arab World, Archeology, Asia, Syria

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