Islamic State Militants Destroy 2,000-Year-Old Ancient City

Islamic State militants are still on the path of destruction, and now there are reports they have demolished the ancient city of Hatra in Northern Iraq. The city that dates back 2,000 years was attacked by the militant group on Saturday, the Tourism and Antiquities ministry has reported. Though it was reported, it is unclear the extent of the damages since no images of the destruction have been released as of yet.

A resident who lives near the ancient city stated that he had heard a loud explosion early on Saturday. Other residents who live near the area reported that ISIS had indeed obliterated the ancient city and then began to bulldoze the surrounding areas. This type of destruction comes on the heels of the demolition of the Assyrian archeological site Nimrud just a day prior.

The Independent reports Kurdish official Saeed Mamuzini from Mosul as stating, “The city of Hatra is very big and many artefacts of that era were protected inside the site.”

Unesco, the cultural agency of the United Nations, sees this as a “cultural cleansing” and has categorized it as a war crime.

The ancient city of Hatra was the first capital of the Arab kingdom during the Parthian Empire. At one time, the city was able to withstand invasions from the Romans in A.D. 116 and again in 198. That was made possible due to its fortified structure, and now if the reports are correct, it may lie in rubble.

There is some doubt cast on the destruction of the ancient city, considering where Hatra is located. As reported by ABC News, Mohammed Nuri, an MP from southern Nineveh province, states that “until this moment, there are no confirmed reports that Hatra has been destroyed.” He continues that considering where the area is in proximity to the locals, it would be very unlikely that residents would be aware of any destruction taking place.

“I have not heard of someone who physically saw the destruction taking place.”

The Islamist State militants may be using the looted artifacts has a major source of funding, and they are believed to be taking the gold and silver before destroying these ancient cities. Mamuzini reports that many of the ancient precious metals that the Assyrians used were stored in the city of Hatra.

The ancient city of Hatra was conquered by Alexander the Great and is most famously known for its magnificent pillars in the center of the archeological site.

[Image courtesy of Assyrian International News Agency]