UN: ISIS heritage destruction a ‘war crime’

Iraq’s tourism and antiquities minister, Adel Fahad al-Shershab, also called for the protection of archeological sites

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U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced outrage Sunday over the destruction by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) of Iraqi cultural sites, and urged the world to stop it, Agence France-Presse reported.

“The secretary-general urgently calls on the international community to swiftly put a stop to such heinous terrorist activity and to counter the illicit traffic in cultural artifacts,” Ban said in a statement from his spokesman.

“The deliberate destruction of our common cultural heritage constitutes a war crime.”

He stressed that the perpetrators must be held to account.

ISIS militants have bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, smashed artifacts in the Mosul museum and have now reportedly set their sights on the 2,200-year old city of Hatra.

Ban said he was “outraged” by the destruction, citing the latest reports of the razing of Hatra, a world heritage site in the north of Iraq.

The U.N. chief spoke after Iraq’s tourism and antiquities minister, Adel Fahad al-Shershab, called on the U.S.-led coalition to protect archeological sites from the militants.

The coalition announced that it had carried out 12 air strikes in Iraq from Saturday to Sunday morning, including two near Mosul that reportedly destroyed an ISIS unit and two “excavators,” but it was unclear if these were involved in attacking historic sites.

In February, the U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution aimed at choking off financing for ISIS from antiquities trafficking as well as oil smuggling and ransom payments.

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