Islamic State extremists Thursday razed an ancient site at Nimrud in Iraq, according to government officials, who accused the group of using heavy vehicles to remove all traces of precious archaeological remains.
Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said militants decimated the Assyrian site of Nimrud, about 20 miles south of Mosul in culturally rich Nineveh province, bulldozing ruins that date to the 13th century BC, according to a ministry statement.
Officials had repeatedly voiced their fear for Nimrud's fate after it fell into Islamic State hands during the group's swift takeover of large sections of Nineveh province last year.
The damage Thursday came a week after Islamic State released video depicting militants kicking down statues in Mosul's national museum before taking to them with electric drills and hammers. The condition of the site could not be independently verified.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, Qais Hussein, in an interview with the Saudi-based Al Arabiya news outlet last week, said "the presence of the terrorists in the historical city of Nimrud is suspicious and worrisome."
Islamic State espouses a harsh application of Islamic sharia law that dismisses preservation of historical relics and sites as idolatry. The group, along with other hard-line Islamist factions, has systematically blown up, demolished, or smashed significant religious and archaeological landmarks throughout areas of Syria and Iraq.
The group has demonstrated an equally strict approach to its administration of areas under its control, where it has regularly meted out amputations, beheadings and crucifixions as punishment.
Bulos is a special correspondent.