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Iraqi Forces Securing Ancient Nimrud After Forcing Out IS Extremists

The ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud -- general view of the site with an Assyrian ziggurat in the background from March 2012

Iraqi soldiers have begun work to secure what is left of the 3,000-year-old city of Nimrud, a day after driving out Islamic State (IS) militants who overran and destroyed much of the ancient Assyrian capital.

Drone aircraft on November 14 were being used to survey the ruins of Nimrud's palaces and temples, which were razed by IS militants after they swept through northern Iraq in 2014.

Iraqi troops were also searching for booby traps, bombs, and mines, as well as lingering IS fighters who may be hiding in tunnels or among the rubble of what had once been the capital of an ancient Middle East empire.

The IS extremists declared that many of Nimrud's historic sites were idolatrous.

They destroyed ancient buildings, statues, and friezes using bulldozers, explosives, and pickaxes.

The United Nations says the destruction constituted a war crime.

Iraqi officials say it won't be possible to determine whether Nimrud's historic treasures can be rescued until the area is determined to be safe for archaeologists to work there.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP