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Islamic State Blows Up Ancient Assyrian Temple In Northern Iraq

Iraqi workers clean a statue of a winged bull at an archaeological site in Nimrud in 2001.

The Islamic State extremist group has posted a video that shows it blowing up a 3,000-year-old temple in the Assyrian city of Nimrud in northern Iraq -- the militant group's latest assault on a priceless archaeological treasure.

The United Nations confirmed on June 9 that satellite imagery showed "extensive damage to the main entrance" of the temple of Nabu, the Babylonian god of wisdom.

Nimrud was a 13th-century B.C. Assyrian city, located 20 miles south of the modern city of Mosul, which the militants have controlled since 2014.

The IS video also showed bulldozers razing the ancient Gate of Nergal, part of the historic Nineveh city wall in Mosul.

A bearded man in the video said that the destruction was meant to prevent Muslims from returning to idolatry.

The group considers all pre-Islamic culture idolatrous, along with any religion outside its own radical interpretation of Sunni Islam.

Besides destroying important archaeological sites in northern Iraq, IS blew up temples and ancient buildings in Palmyra in neighboring Syria. It is also suspected of raising funds from selling looted artifacts.

In the last two years, archaeologists say IS has inflicted incalculable damage on historic sites.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP