After ISIS expelled from Nimrud, UN visits historic Iraqi city for damage assessment

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In this photo, released by pro-ISIS activists late Saturday, April 11, 2015, purports to show a militant taking a sledgehammer to an Assyrian relief at the site of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.

ARA News

Duhok – The United Nations’ cultural agency is conducting an inspection of the Nimrud archaeological site in northern Iraq to assess its overall state of conservation. The UN is partially interested in determining the extent of the damage to the site as the Islamic State (ISIS) intentionally demolished it in 2015.

“In Nimrud, large-scale, systematic and deliberate destruction of the site’s archaeological remains have occurred,” reported Irina Bokova, Director General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

“UNESCO reiterates its full determination to work with the Iraqi authorities to ensure the safeguarding of what remains and lay the foundation for a progressive recovery of the site,” Bokova said on Thursday.

She added that Nimrud’s restoration is important for the Iraqi people and humanity writ large.

On November 19, US-backed Iraqi forces recaptured the ancient Assyrian capital, after clashing with ISIS jihadists. At the time, an Iraqi Army officer told ARA News that the “liberation of Nimrud city is part of the Mosul operation against Daesh terrorists.”

The UNESCO-led assessment mission also aims to identify emergency safeguarding measures that could be taken in order to prevent any further damage to the site. Layla Salih from the Board of Antiquities and Heritage of Iraq, and Seedo Takani from the Provincial Council of Nineveh are also participating in the assessment.

The UN cultural agency has reported that the ziggurat, built structures and carved reliefs have sustained considerable damage as a result of explosions and bulldozing. The UN has recommended that Iraq prioritizes the physical protection of Numrud in order to allow for detailed documentation and to prevent looting.

Nimrud, also known as Kalhu, is one of the main archaeological sites from the Assyrian period in Iraq. Established during the 13th century BC, the city was built by the Assyrian King Shalmaneser I (1274 – 1245 BC), and later became the second capital of the Assyrian Empire under King Ashurnasirpal II (883-859 BC).

Archaeological excavations started in 1845 and have revealed the remains of palaces, fortifications, a ziggurat, the temples of Nabu and Ishtar, as well as several royal tombs. Distinctive Assyrian artistic and architectural remains include large statues, panels and reliefs that adorned the Palace of Ashurnasirpal, providing further understanding about ancient Mesopotamia.

Nimrud has been exposed to the Islamic State’s iconoclasm, since the radical group took over the area in June 2014. At the time, UNESCO warned that ISIS was carrying out a “culture cleansing.”

Reporting by: Eyaz Ciziri and Ali Issa | Source: ARA News & Agencies

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