Islamic State fighters have looted and bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, the Iraqi government said, in their latest assault on some of the world’s greatest archaeological and cultural treasures.A tribal source from the nearby city of Mosul told Reuters the ultra-radical Sunni Islamists, who dismiss Iraq’s pre-Islamic heritage as idolatrous, had pillaged the 3,000-year-old site on the banks of the Tigris river, once capital of the world’s most powerful empire.
The assault against Nimrud came just a week after the release of a video showing Islamic State supporters smashing museum statues and carvings in Mosul, the city they seized along with much of northern Iraq last June.The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO condemned Islamic State’s actions as “cultural cleansing” and a war crime. The government in Baghdad said the fighters were defying “the will of the world and the feelings of humanity.”
“In a new crime in their series of reckless offences they assaulted the ancient city of Nimrud and bulldozed it with heavy machinery, appropriating archaeological attractions dating back 13 centuries BC,” the tourism and antiquities ministry saidNimrud, about 20 miles (30 km) south of Mosul, was built around 1250 BC. Four centuries later it became capital of the neo-Assyrian empire – at the time the most powerful state on earth, extending to modern-day Egypt, Turkey and Iran.