Friday 15 November 2019

Fears rise over third ancient site

IS militants have destroyed ancient sites including the centuries-old Mosque of the Prophet Younis in Mosul (AP)
IS militants have destroyed ancient sites including the centuries-old Mosque of the Prophet Younis in Mosul (AP)

Iraq's government is investigating reports that the ancient archaeological site of Khorsabad in northern Iraq has become the latest to be attacked by Islamic State (IS).

Adel Shirshab, the country's tourism and antiquities minister, said there are concerns the militants will remove artefacts and damage the site, located nine miles north-east of Mosul.

Saeed Mamuzini, a Kurdish official from Mosul, said militants had already begun demolishing the Khorsabad site on Sunday, citing multiple witnesses.

On Friday, the group razed 3,000-year-old Nimrud and on Saturday, they bulldozed 2,000-year old Hatra - both Unesco world heritage sites.

UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon has called the destruction a "war crime," and a statement by his spokesman on Sunday night said Mr Ban was "outraged by the continuing destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq" by IS.

Khorsabad was constructed as a new capital of Assyria by King Sargon II shortly after he came to power in 721 BC and abandoned after his death in 705 BC. It features a city wall with a stone foundation and seven gates.

Since it was a single-era capital, few objects linked to Sargon II himself were found. However, the site is renowned for shedding light on Assyrian art and architecture.

The sculptured stone slabs that once lined the palace walls are now displayed in museums in Baghdad, Paris, London and Chicago.

IS currently controls about a third of Iraq and Syria.

The Sunni extremist group has been campaigning to purge ancient relics they say promote idolatry that violates their fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law.

A video released last week showed them smashing artefacts in the Mosul museum and in January, the group burned hundreds of books from the Mosul library and Mosul University, including many rare manuscripts.

At a press conference earlier Sunday, Mr Shirshab said they have called for an extraordinary session of the UN Security Council to address the crisis in Iraq.

"The world should bear the responsibility and put an end to the atrocities of the militants, otherwise I think the terrorist groups will continue with their violent acts," he said.

PA Media

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