Islamic State militants hammered, bulldozed, and ultimately blew up parts of the ancient Iraqi Assyrian city of Nimrud, destroying a site dating back to the 13th century BC, an online video purportedly shows. The destruction at Nimrud, located near the militant-held city of Mosul, came amid other attacks on antiquity carried out by the group now holding a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its caliphate. The attacks have horrified archaeologists and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who last month called the destruction at Nimrud "a war crime." The seven-minute video, posted late yesterday, shows militants taking down huge alabaster reliefs depicting Assyrian kings and deities. A bulldozer brings down walls, while militants fill barrels with explosives and later destroy three separate areas of the site in massive explosions.
"God has honored us in the Islamic State to remove all of these idols and statutes worshipped instead of Allah in the past days," one militant says in the video. Another vows that "whenever we seize a piece of land, we will remove signs of idolatry and spread monotheism." The militants have been destroying ancient relics they say promote idolatry, including the ancient Iraqi city of Hatra, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Authorities also believe they've sold others on the black market to fund their atrocities. Some of the figures appeared to have rebar, ribbed bars of steels designed to reinforce concrete that are a technique of modern building. An Iraqi Antiquities Ministry official said all items at Nimrud were authentic.