Saturday 7 March 2015

Islamic State Militants Reportedly Raze Some Hatra City Remains

Hatra, what is there for warped, blinkered and
unforgiving minds to hate here?
State-building ISIL-style. Instead of making their priority repairing infrastructure damaged by military action, it is being reported that these people are determined first to ruin the ruins on the edges of the habitation zones. Clearing ruins will not make a state.After the destruction of items from Hatra in Mosul Museum and then interference (of unknown extent as yet) in the ruin field of Nimrud, now Reuters is reporting another alarming story:
Islamic State militants have destroyed ancient remains of the 2,000-year-old city of Hatra in northern Iraq, the tourism and antiquities ministry said on Saturday. An official told Reuters that the ministry had received reports from its employees in the northern city of Mosul, which is under the control of the radical Islamist group, that the site at Hatra had been demolished on Saturday. The official said it was difficult to confirm the reports and the ministry had not received any pictures showing the extent of the damage at Hatra, which was named a world heritage site in 1987. But a resident in the area told Reuters he heard a powerful explosion early on Saturday and said that other people nearby had reported that Islamic State militants had destroyed some of the larger buildings in Hatra and were bulldozing other parts. [...] Saeed Mamuzini, spokesman for the Mosul branch of the Kurdish Democratic Party, said the militants had used explosives to blow up buildings at Hatra and were also bulldozing it. The antiquities ministry said the lack of tough international response to earlier Islamic State attacks on Iraq's historic sites had encouraged the group to continue its campaign. "The delay in international support for Iraq has encouraged terrorists to commit another crime of stealing and demolishing the remains of the city of Hatra," it said in a statement.
Source:  Ahmed Rasheed and Isabel Coles, 'Islamic State militants raze Iraq's ancient Hatra city: government', Mar 7, 2015. 

Note that this report is unconfirmed, no names are named, it is not clear how the employees in ISIL-held Mosul were able to confirm (or whether they tried) the destruction of Hatra 90 Km to the southwest. How did Reuters contact the unamed "resident in the area" (and how local is he)? We really need some decent aerial shots of Nimrud and now Hatra as a matter or urgency. Hatra (35°35'17.0"N 42°43'06.0"E) is rather remote, out in the desert but there is a local settlement (Al-Hadar) just next to the site. The whole area is however outside the area of direct ISIL control, so if somebody has bulldozed the site, it is perhaps an ISIL sympathiser rather than the group itself.

Hatra (arrowed) outside this map's ISIL controlled areas (black)
and 296 km from Baghdad

 Conflicting reports are being disseminated:
Mohammed Nuri, an MP from southern Nineveh province, where Hatra is located, cast doubt on whether the reports were accurate, saying "until this moment, there are no confirmed reports that Hatra has been destroyed". "Hatra is somewhat isolated, and residents are not nearby," he said. "I have not heard of someone who physically saw the destruction taking place."
but 'the Mosul Eye' is confirming the destruction of both Nimrud and Hatra (whatever value that has).

I guess we'll have to wait for some aerial photos.

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