The director general of the UN agency for culture UNESCO strongly condemned on Friday the destruction of the ancient archaeological site of Nimrud in Iraq by Islamic State (ISIL) militants, calling it a war crime.

The Iraqi government said that the Islamists attacked the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq on Thursday and bulldozed it with trucks.

“The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime,” UNESCO head Irina Bokova said in a statement posted on the agency’s website.

Bokova called on all political and religious leaders to remind everyone “there is absolutely no political or religious justification for the destruction of humanity’s cultural heritage.”

The city of Nimrud is over 3,300 years old. It used to be the capital of the Assyrian empire and is valued for its frescos and antique relics.

The Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said in a statement on Friday that the militants continued to defy “the feelings of humanity.”

Last Thursday, ISIL militants posted a video featuring them destroying a collection of antique statues and sculptures in Iraq’s second largest museum in the city of Mosul. The act triggered widespread condemnation among archaeologists and heritage organizations.

The World Tourism Organization UNWTO strongly condemned on Wednesday the “systematic destruction of cultural and religious artefacts” by the ISIL group in Syria and Iraq.


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