First, ISIS militants proudly destroyed priceless artifacts at a museum in Mosul. Then they bulldozed the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud. And now the 2,000-year-old city of Hatra is being leveled, reports the Guardian. Iraq's antiquities ministry says militants were blowing up or bulldozing buildings and statues at the UNESCO world heritage site. Hatra is located about 70 miles southwest of Mosul, and AP provides a sense of its history: Established during the Parthian Empire, it served as "capital of the first Arab kingdom."
The city's high walls helped it withstand at least two Roman invasions, allowing it to flourish as a trading post on the famed Silk Road. "There is absolutely no political or religious justification for the destruction of humanity's cultural heritage," UN official Irina Bokova said yesterday after the Nimrud destruction. She called the devastation "cultural cleansing" and a "war crime," reports the BBC. ISIS considers the ruins and artifacts homages to "false idols" that must be destroyed. (Read more ISIS stories.)