Islamic State fighters 'bulldoze' ancient Iraqi city
Militants raided the historical city in their latest attack on the 'non-Islamic heritage' of the Middle East
Islamic State fighters have looted and "bulldozed" the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, according to the Iraqi government.
"They came at midday with a bulldozer and started destroying the palace," an official told Al Jazeera.
Nimrud, founded in the 13th century BC on the banks of the river Tigris, is one of the most celebrated cultural heritage sites in the country.
Iraq's Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities has condemned the destruction, saying that IS continues "to defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity."
IS fighters reportedly used heavy machinery and military vehicles to remove ancient statues from the site in the latest attack on Iraq's cultural centres.
"They are erasing our history," Iraqi archaeologist Lamia al-Gailani told the BBC.
IS has previously said statues are "false idols" put on display by "devil worshippers" and must be destroyed.
This comes less than week after IS militants were filmed using sledgehammers to destroy statues and artefacts in the ancient site of Nineveh in Mosul. The UN has since condemned the attack as a war crime.
"These ruins behind me are idols and statues that people used to worship in the past instead of Allah," said one man in the video. "God created us to worship him, him only – not some stones."
IS also reportedly burnt down Mosul Library, which housed more than 8,000 ancient manuscripts, according to the BBC.
The latest destruction "signals a new phase in [Islamic State's] declared war on the non-Islamic heritage of the Middle East, both human and historical," says The Times.
Mosul and nearby areas have been under IS control since June last year. This occupied region holds 1,800 of the country's 12,000 registered archaeological sites. Hatra, a nearby World Heritage Site, is feared to be next.