In the opening scene of the 1973 film The Exorcist, the Harta temple located in Iraq is used as a backdrop. Now, in another attempt to destroy "false idols," ISIS jihadists wielding sledgehammers and rifles are shown destroying the temple in a newly released video.
As reported on Fox News, the ISIS "Smashing Idols" video, shows a militant on a ladder using a sledgehammer to destroy a carved face until it is knocked loose, falling to the ground and shattering. In another clip, a militant is shown firing a Kalashnikov rifle at another artifact, while men chop away the bases of some of the larger wall sculptures. Local citizens also reported that ISIS used bulldozers to complete the destruction of the ancient site.
ISIS has been destroying ancient relics they say promote idolatry. Authorities also believe that ISIS is selling some ancient treasures on the black market to fund their terrorist intentions.
Hatra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, withstood Roman invaders twice in the 2nd Century, but is no match for ISIS and their determination to destroy the artifacts. The attack on Harta is not an isolated incident. Local government officials report that the militant group had looted and destroyed several ancient sites, including the 3,000 year-old city of Nimrud, another UNESCO World Heritage site. The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon called the Nimrud attack "a war crime."
According to Fox, Hatra, located 68 miles southwest of Mosul, was a large fortified city during the Parthian Empire and capital of the first Arab kingdom. The ancient trading center spanned 4 miles in circumference and was supported by more than 160 towers. In the center of the city, there were a series of temples with a grand temple at the center — a structure supported by columns that once rose to 100 feet.
The Seattle PI states that the video's release comes after the Iraqi government this week claimed victory against the Islamic State group in Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit.
Tikrit is located 80 miles north of Baghdad on the main highway to Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city. This military action is an important step in the fight against ISIS as seizing Tikrit is key to eventually retake Mosul and the historic sites near it.
ISIS has been occupying Mosul and the city has been subject to internal and external fighting. ISIS also destroyed ancient artifacts in Mosul's central museum, destroying priceless works that were thousands of years old, dating back from the Assyrian and Akkadian empires.
Below is a video about Harta, which features some beautiful footage of the temple ruins before they were bulldozed by ISIS. Click here to read about the destruction of a Catholic Monastery courtesy of ISIS.