About 30 km south of Mosul, Iraqi troops recaptured the 3,000-year-old Assyrian city of Nimrud which was overrun by ISIS terrorists since 2014, a military source said.
Nimrud, once the capital of an empire stretching across the ancient Middle East, is one of several historic sites looted and ransacked by the militants, who deem the country’s pre-Islamic religious heritage idolatrous.
Iraq’s deputy culture minister, Qais Hussain Rasheed, said that recapturing the remains of Iraq’s rich heritage from the jihadists represented a triumph for the world.
ISIS still controls other Assyrian landmarks including the ruins of Nineveh and Khorsabad, as well as the 2,000-year-old desert city of Hatra.
“Liberation of ancient Iraqi archaeological sites from the control of forces of dark and evil is a victory not only to Iraqis but for all humanity,” Rasheed, deputy minister for tourism and antiquities at the culture ministry, told Reuters.
The scale of the damage inflicted on the sites is not completely clear, but Iraqi officials say many buildings have been totally destroyed.
More than 54,000 people have been forced to flee their homes so far in the Mosul campaign.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said on Sunday tens of thousands of people “lack access to water, food, electricity and basic health services” in areas recaptured by the army in Mosul and surrounding towns and villages.
Ultimately, 700,000 people were likely to need shelter, food, water or medical support.
In the north of the country, Iraqi Kurdish fighters battling ISIS unlawfully destroyed Arab homes in scores of towns and villages in what may amount to a war crime, the U.S.-based rights group Human Rights Watch said on Sunday.