Islamic State militants purportedly destroyed artifacts and buildings in Iraq's ancient city of Hatra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, according to a video posted on a social media website.
The video, which was released by the official media office of Islamic State in Dijla province and uploaded on Friday (April 3), appears to show militants using sledgehammers, pickaxes and Kalashnikov rifles to destroy statues, archways and pillars in the Mesopotamian city, 320 kilometers north of Baghdad.
Reuters is unable to independently verify the content of this video, which has been obtained from a social media website.
In the last month, Islamic State militants have desecrated other ancient Iraqi capitals, including razing parts of the 2,700-year-old city of Khorsabad famed for its colossal statues of human-headed winged bulls.
Officials have said they were checking reports of damage at Khorsabad following attacks on the cities of Nineveh, Nimrud and Hatra by the Islamist radicals who control much of northern Iraq.
Islamic State rules a self-declared caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria which contain some of the richest archaeological treasures on earth, where ancient Assyrian empires built their capitals, Graeco-Roman civilization flourished and Muslim and Christian sects co-existed for centuries.
The group, which rejects all but its own narrow interpretation of early Sunni Muslim theology as heresy, has systematically destroyed historic temples, shrines, manuscripts statues and carvings.
Officials say it has also looted widely, selling artifacts to help fund its rule.
The United Nations has condemned Islamic State's actions as a war crime and an attack on humanity's common heritage, but the global outrage has not slowed the destruction.
Iraq has asked a U.S.-led coalition which is supporting Baghdad's fightback against Islamic State with air strikes to deploy its aerial power to defend the country's heritage.
U.S. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, said on March 9 that the military priority was focused on populated areas ruled by Islamic State, as opposed to some of the remote antiquities sites.sign up to our newsletter
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