IS group shot, ham­mered away at Iraq’s Ha­tra: video

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY VI­VIAN SALAMA

Is­lamic State ex­trem­ists at Iraq’s an­cient city of Ha­tra de­stroyed the ar­chae­o­log­i­cal site by smash­ing sledge­ham­mers into its walls and shoot­ing Kalash­nikov as­sault ri­fles at priceless stat­ues, a new mil­i­tant video pur­port­edly from the group shows.

Mil­i­tants at­tacked Ha­tra, a UNESCO World Her­itage site, last month, of­fi­cials and lo­cal res­i­dents said, though the ex­tent of the dam­age re­mains un­clear as it is in ter­ri­tory still con­trolled by the Is­lamic State group.

The video, re­leased overnight Fri­day, shows a mil­i­tant on a lad­der us­ing a sledge­ham­mer to bang re­peat­edly on the back of one of the carved faces un­til it crashes to the ground and breaks into pieces. The video also shows a mil­i­tant fir­ing a Kalash­nikov ri­fle at an­other, while men chop away the bases of some of the larger wall sculp­tures.

The video cor­re­sponded with As­so­ci­ated Press re­port­ing on the attack and was posted to a mil­i­tant web­site fre­quently used by the group.

One of

the

mil­i­tants, who speaks Ara­bic with a dis­tinct Gulf ac­cent on the video, de­clares they de­stroyed the site be­cause it is “wor­shipped in­stead of God.” The Is­lamic State group, which holds a third of Iraq and neigh­bor­ing Syria in its self-de­clared caliphate, has been destroying an­cient relics they say pro­mote idol­a­try that vi­o­lates their fun­da­men­tal­ist in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Is­lamic law. Au­thor­i­ties also be­lieve they’ve sold oth­ers on the black mar­ket to fund their atroc­i­ties.

‘a war crime’

Lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials told the AP last month the mil­i­tant group had looted and de­stroyed sev­eral an­cient sites, in­clud­ing the 3,000 yearold Nim­rud, an­other UNESCO World Her­itage site. United Na­tions Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki­Moon called the Nim­rud attack “a war crime.”

An­other video re­leased in Fe­bru­ary showed mil­i­tants smash­ing ar­ti­facts in the Mo­sul Mu­seum and in Jan­uary, the group burned hun­dreds of books from the Mo­sul li­brary and Mo­sul Uni­ver­sity, in­clud­ing many rare manuscripts. The ma­jor­ity of the ar­ti­facts de­stroyed in the Mo­sul Mu­seum attack were from Ha­tra.

Ha­tra, lo­cated 110 kilo­me­ters ( 68 miles) south­west of the Is­lamic State- held city of Mo­sul, was a large for­ti­fied city dur­ing the Parthian Em­pire and cap­i­tal of the first Arab king­dom. The site is said to have with­stood in­va­sions by the Ro­mans in A.D. 116 and A.D. 198 thanks to its high, thick walls re­in­forced by tow­ers. The an­cient trad­ing cen­ter spanned 6 kilo­me­ters ( 4 miles) in cir­cum­fer­ence and was sup­ported by more than 160 tow­ers. At its heart are a se­ries of tem­ples with a grand tem­ple at the cen­ter — a struc­ture sup­ported by col­umns that once rose to 100 feet.

AP

In this im­age made from a video posted on YouTube on Fri­day, April 3, which has been ver­i­fied and is con­sis­tent with other AP re­port­ing, a piece falls off from a curved face on the wall of an an­cient build­ing as a mil­i­tant ham­mers it in Ha­tra, a large for­ti­fied city rec­og­nized as a UNESCO World Her­itage site, 110 kilo­me­ters (68 miles) south­west of Mo­sul, Iraq.

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