People inspect the damage inside the destroyed museum of Mosul on March 11, 2017 after it was recaptured by Iraqi forces from the Islamic State. Photo: Aris Messinis

Iraqi Forces Recapture Ravaged Mosul Museum

After Iraqi troops recovered the Mosul Museum from the Islamic State, they found that the building was in complete ruin, with a gaping hole in the basement and its artifacts looted or smashed to pieces, AFP reports.

After Iraqi forces pushed into Mosul last week in an attempt to reclaim the northern part of the city from the terrorist group, they declared that the rescue of the museum was more of a symbolic victory. The institution’s famous seven-foot-tall, two-ton Lamassu statues—winged Assyrian bulls with human faces—were reduced to rubble. According to Iraqi archaeologist Layla Salih, the Lamassues as well as a winged lion statue, which was also destroyed, were the museum’s most valuable pieces. She said that “restoration is possible, but it will be difficult to know if we will find all the fragments, or if some are missing.”

The ocher- rock building is currently being used as an outpost for Iraqi snipers who are taking cover from ISIS snipers in the area. The only artifacts that survived ISIS’s violent assault on the museum are two massive coffins for thirteenth-century Shiite imams that are inscribed with sayings from the Qur’an.

The museum housed more than one hundred artifacts, though only six were originals. Any items that could not be looted were destroyed on site. Officials knew the damage to the museum would be extensive, after the jihadists created a video of themselves attacking items at the museum with sledgehammers and pneumatic drills in February 2015. Today, the institution is littered with the remnants of object labels, indicating what the museum has lost.