UNESCO condemns attack on Iraq museum shown in alleged Islamic State video

A shocking online video released Thursday, purportedly showing Islamic State forces destroying priceless antiquities in a museum in Iraq, has drawn condemnation from the head of UNESCO, the United Nations body that is mandated to oversee cultural heritage sites around the world.

In a news release issued Thursday, Irina Bokova, UNESCO's director-general, called the acts portrayed in the video a "deliberate attack against Iraq's millennial history and culture."


She added that the attack "is far more than a cultural tragedy -- this is also a security issue as it fuels sectarianism, violent extremism and conflict in Iraq."

Bokova said she has asked the president of the U.N. Security Council to convene an emergency meeting to address the protection of Iraq's cultural heritage.

The video, which has been widely disseminated online, shows what appear to be Islamic State forces destroying ancient works of art using sledgehammers, jackhammers and other tools.

Some reports have stated that the destruction shown in the five-minute video took place at a museum in the city of Nineveh, near Mosul -- territory that has been overtaken by Islamic State.

Additionally, parts of the video show the destruction of artwork in what some reports have identified as a nearby archaeological site.

Bokova said "the systematic destruction of iconic components of Iraq's rich and diverse heritage that we have been witnessing over the past months is intolerable and it must stop immediately."

The acts shown in the video have provoked widespread condemnation from political and cultural leaders around the world.

In December, UNESCO published a report highlighting the destruction of cultural heritage sites in Syria. The report, which relied on satellite technology, counted 24 cultural heritage locations in Syria as being totally destroyed.

Twitter: @DavidNgLAT