Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Hatra: IS damage to ancient Iraqi city less than feared

The ancient city of Hatra, located 290km (180 miles) north-west of Baghdad and 110km south-west of Mosul, is a Unesco World Heritage site - a religious and trading centre of the Parthian Empire that flourished between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD. It was one of the best-preserved of Iraq's archaeological sites before it was seized by ISIL in 2014. The site was recaptured by Syrian pro-government fighters last Wednesday, and recent inspections have shown that the city suffered less damage during the time it was held by so-called Islamic State than first feared by several writers.
The jihadists filmed themselves smashing statues, raising concerns that they might have wreaked destruction on the scale seen in Nimrud and Palmyra. But the local head of antiquities said most buildings at the site were intact. [...]  In March 2015, Iraqi officials said they had received reports from locals that IS had destroyed Hatra. The following month, IS itself released a video showing militants using picks, sledgehammers and assault rifles to destroy statues and friezes deemed idolatrous. [...] The full extent of the damage done was not known until Hatra was recaptured by the paramilitary Popular Mobilisation force last Wednesday and pictures emerged. A journalist from the Spanish Efe news agency visited the site over the weekend and reported finding many destroyed statues, buildings that had been on fire, the charred bodies of several militants, and mortars stored in courtyards. There was also evidence of looting. But Layla Salih, head of antiquities for the province of Nineveh, was quoted as saying that the destruction "does not compare with what happened at other archaeological sites" in Iraq. A Popular Mobilisation commander also described the damage as relatively minor. "The exterior wall was damaged, shots fired by Daesh [IS militants] left holes in some buildings, two grand halls of the ancient palace suffered fires, and shrapnel from shells affected the western part," Kasim Mosleh told Efe. In November, a month after launching an operation to drive IS out of Mosul, Iraqi forces recaptured Nimrud. However, much of the site was reduced to rubble.
BBC, 'Hatra: IS damage to ancient Iraqi city less than feared' 1st May 2017. 

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