ISIS publicly smashes Syrian artifacts

Updated 11:12 AM EDT, Fri July 3, 2015
isis destroys iraq mosul artifacts_00002819.jpg
PHOTO: ISIS
isis destroys iraq mosul artifacts_00002819.jpg
Now playing
01:45
Why does ISIS destroy antiquities?
Now playing
01:01
Fleeing ISIS in Mosul: Their faces say it all
women flee isis to debaga
PHOTO: CNN
women flee isis to debaga
Now playing
01:58
Women recount horror of life under ISIS
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:30
ISIS survivor tells her story
Nick Paton Walsh Mosul ISIS gunfire orig_00004713.jpg
Nick Paton Walsh Mosul ISIS gunfire orig_00004713.jpg
Now playing
01:20
Iraq forces and ISIS exchange gunfire
Iraqi women react as people gather on July 9, 2016 at the site of a suicide-bombing attack which took place on July 3 in Baghdad
PHOTO: AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images
Iraqi women react as people gather on July 9, 2016 at the site of a suicide-bombing attack which took place on July 3 in Baghdad's Karrada neighbourhood. The Baghdad bombing claimed by the Islamic State group killed 292 people, according to a new toll issued on July 7, many of whom were trapped in blazing buildings and burned alive. A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden minibus early on July 3, ahead of the Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. / AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE (Photo credit should read AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:24
Majority of ISIS victims are Muslim
PHOTO: ISIS
Now playing
01:23
Is it ISIS, ISIL or Daesh?
Now playing
02:19
ISIS' battle tactics
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
00:46
Why Libya matters to ISIS
ISIS hates yazidis terrorist group target orig cm_00000923.jpg
ISIS hates yazidis terrorist group target orig cm_00000923.jpg
Now playing
01:57
ISIS hates this religious group the most
iraq isis human shields damon pkg_00013513.jpg
iraq isis human shields damon pkg_00013513.jpg
Now playing
02:44
Iraqis recount horrors of being human shields for ISIS
isis fratricide robertson pkg_00002526.jpg
PHOTO: SITE Monitoring
isis fratricide robertson pkg_00002526.jpg
Now playing
02:43
ISIS calls on Saudi supporters to kill relatives
ISIS released still pictures purporting to show massive parade of their militants in the city of Sirte, Libya
PHOTO: ISIS
ISIS released still pictures purporting to show massive parade of their militants in the city of Sirte, Libya
Now playing
02:30
Why is ISIS heading to Libya?
iraqi town suffering after isis chemical attack damon pkg cnn today_00010115.jpg
iraqi town suffering after isis chemical attack damon pkg cnn today_00010115.jpg
Now playing
02:34
Iraqi town suffering from ISIS chemical attack

Story highlights

Alleged antiquities smuggler lashed by ISIS in Syrian square

World cultural leaders decry militants' destruction of artifacts

(CNN) —  

ISIS militants reportedly smashed cultural treasures from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, including an artifact dating back to the second century, according to a statement from the group and Syrian state media.

A man smuggling at least six ancient statues through Aleppo province was captured by jihadis and transferred to a self-proclaimed Islamic court in the ISIS-controlled city of Manbij, a Thursday release on the group’s social media sites read.

Militants shattered the relics with sledgehammers and lashed the smuggler in a public square packed with onlookers after the court ruled the centuries-old objects violated ISIS’ radical interpretation of Islam.

In Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site dating back 2,000 years, ISIS allegedly destroyed the Allat God statue on Thursday, a significant ancient object depicting a lion catching a deer between its feet.

“ISIS terrorists have destroyed one of the most important unearthed statues in Syria in terms of quality and weight … it was discovered in 1977 and dates back to the second century A.D.,” Ma’moun Abdul-Karim, director of museums and antiquities, told state-run SANA news agency on Thursday.

The U.N. cultural organization Wednesday accused the self-proclaimed Islamic State of “cultural cleansing” as part of a global propaganda campaign to recruit foreign fighters and dismantle the fabric of societies in the Middle East.

“Violent extremists don’t destroy heritage as a collateral damage, they target systematically monuments and sites to strike societies at their core,” Irina Bokova, director-general of UNESCO, said at London’s Chatham House.

ISIS’ acts of cultural vandalism on the world wonder began when the group wrested control of Palmyra from government forces in May.

The oasis city is known as the “bride of the desert” for its exquisite collection of ruins along a historical trade route that once linked Persia, India and China with the Roman Empire.

At least two ancient Muslim shrines in the once-monumental city were blown up by ISIS last month, weeks after it bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud and took sledgehammers to statues at the Mosul Museum.

Items seized in Palmyra by ISIS.
PHOTO: ISIS
Items seized in Palmyra by ISIS.

“We see today that heritage and culture comes sometimes into the forefront of conflict,” Bokova told the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London on Thursday.

“The deliberate destruction, what we are seeing today in Iraq and Syria, has reached unprecedented levels in contemporary history.”

Opinion: Why ISIS destroys antiquities