Story highlights

NEW: ISIS has posted a new propaganda video showing its fighters destroying Nimrud

Other wrecked sites include Mosul Museum, the site of Khorsabad and Jonah's Tomb

CNN  — 

ISIS continues to bulldoze its way through the cultural heritage of Iraq and Syria, releasing a new propaganda video showing its fighters destroying Iraq’s ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud in March.

Nimrud lies close to ISIS’ main stronghold in Iraq, the northern city of Mosul.

The video, which ISIS posted Saturday, shows militants attacking the more than 3,000-year-old archaeological site with sledgehammers and power tools before finally using explosives to blow it up.

The United Nations has previously described such deliberate cultural destruction as a “war crime,” but in the Nimrud footage the ISIS militants appear proud of their actions.

After an earlier video apparently showing the destruction of artifacts at Mosul Museum, an unnamed fighter explains: “These antiquities and idols behind me were from people in past centuries and were worshiped instead of God. When God Almighty orders us to destroy these statues, idols and antiquities, we must do it, even if they’re worth billions of dollars.”

Here’s a roundup of some of the mayhem and destruction ISIS has wrought upon the cultural heritage of Iraq and Syria:


The Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities announced in March that ISIS had bulldozed Nimrud.

“ISIS continues to defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity,” the ministry said then in a statement. “They violated the ancient city of Nimrud and bulldozed its ancient ruins.”

At the time, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was “disturbed” by the reports.

“These depraved acts are an assault on the heritage of the Iraqi and Syrian people by an organization with a bankrupt and toxic ideology,” Kerry said in a statement.

“The Iraqi government recently nominated Nimrud to be placed on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. In contrast, (ISIS’) twisted goal is clear: to eviscerate a culture and rewrite history in its own brutal image.”

Where: Nimrud lies about 30 kilometers (about 19 miles) south of Mosul in northern Iraq.

What: Nimrud was a city in the Assyrian kingdom, which flourished between 900 and 612 B.C.

Why it’s significant: UNESCO says Nimrud’s “frescoes and works are celebrated around the world and revered in literature and sacred texts.”

Mark Altaweel, professor of archaeology at University College London, told CNN’s Nic Robertson in March that Nimrud was a large site, the full potential of which had not been uncovered.

As the first Assyrian capital, it accumulated huge amounts of wealth, Altaweel said, and many of the objects found there were very rare and made from highly precious materials.

“I would describe Nimrud as one of the really unique archaeological sites in the entire ancient Near East,” he said. “Nimrud is the capital of the first empire in this long series of empires that have profound significance in the way this region develops and ultimately how it affects our own society.”


Iraq’s Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities said on March 9 that it had received reports the ancient Assyrian capital of Khorsabad had been destroyed.