Iraqi families evacuate from the ancient city of Hatra, southwest of the northern city of Mosul, on April 26, 2017, as pro-government Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary forces retake the area from Islamic State fighters.

Iraqi Forces Seize Ancient Site of Hatra from ISIS

Iraqi troops have recaptured Hatra, an ancient city founded in the days of the Parthian Empire more than two thousand years ago, from the Islamic State, AFP reports. Located sixty-eight miles southwest of Mosul, the fortified city, which withstood attacks by the Roman Empire, is believed to have been destroyed by the militant group.

Hashed al-Shaabi, a group of paramilitary forces, said they had “liberated the ancient city of Hatra . . . after fierce clashes with the enemy.” Their offensive began at dawn on Tuesday, April 25. In a statement, the Hashed forces said that sixty-one jihadists were killed and twenty-five hundred civilians were evacuated during the two-day operation.

While the troops retook many of the villages in the surrounding desert area as well as the archaeological site, the modern city of Hatra is not yet fully recaptured. The troops claim that after pushing into the city, ISIS’s defenses collapsed.

An AFP reporter who was traveling with the forces confirmed that the area the Hashed retook was roughly three hundred square miles. Hatra is one of several sites that have been rescued in recent months. In March, Palmyra and the Mosul Museum were liberated from ISIS control. Iraqi forces are currently advancing in west Mosul this week. They are focusing on ousting the militants from the Old City area there.

According to The Guardian, as ISIS has lost ground in Syria and Iraq there has been a mass exodus of foreign fighters and sympathizers. Dozens of foreigners have abandoned the terrorist group and are trying to cross the border into Turkey. At least two British nationals and a United States citizen have been detained after surrendering to Turkey’s border patrol.