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ISIS Destroys Ancient Sites as It Fights to Keep Control of Mosul

Satellite images of heritage sites around the city of Mosul in Iraq show severe damage to ancient Mesopotamian cities, Kristen Romey of National Geographic reports.

The ziggurat of Nimrud, a 140-foot-tall stepped tower made of mudbricks located in the former capital of Assyria, was leveled sometime between August and October. Built by king Ashurnasirpal II nearly twenty-nine hundred years ago, the large temple was a sacred site dedicated to the war god Ninurta, Nimrud’s patron deity.

Ruins at the site of Dur-Sharrukin—a 740-acre city featuring a 24-foot-wide wall and a royal palace containing monumental stone sculptures and reliefs—was damaged by Kurdish Peshmerga forces digging defensive trenches between mid-October and early November. Experts suspect that ISIS looted the ancient city in 2015.

The Islamic State has yet to publicly claim responsibility for the destruction. The terrorist group had previously destroyed the Northwest Palace of Ashurnasipal II and the Nabu Temple at Nimrud in early 2015. Experts are waiting for permission to inspect Nimrud, which was recently liberated from ISIS, but are concerned that the Islamic extremists may have left IEDs and other explosives at the site.