UNESCO condemns ISIS destruction of ancient Iraq city as ‘war crime’

An Iraqi worker stands 21 April 2001 next to the ancient statue of a winged bull with a human face, an indication of strength in the Assyrian civilization, at the archaeological site of Nimrud, south of Mosul in northern Iraq. (File photo: AFP)

The head of UNESCO condemned on Friday the destruction of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group, saying it amounted to a “war crime.”

“I condemn with the strongest force the destruction of the site at Nimrud,” Irina Bokova said in a statement.

She said she had already spoken with the heads of the U.N. Security Council and International Criminal Court on the issue.

“We cannot remain silent. The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime. I call on all political and religious leaders in the region to stand up and remind everyone that there is absolutely no political or religious justification for the destruction of humanity’s cultural heritage.”

ISIS “assaulted the historic city of Nimrud and bulldozed it with heavy vehicles,” Iraq’s government said on Thursday.

An antiquities official said the destruction began after noon prayers on Thursday and that trucks may have been used to haul away artefacts.

“UNESCO is determined to do whatever is needed to document and protect the heritage of Iraq and lead the fight against the illicit traffic of cultural artefacts, which directly contributes to the financing of terrorism,” said Bokova.

“At stake is the survival of the Iraqi culture and society.”

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:44 - GMT 06:44