A new video released by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group appears to show militants turning Iraq's cultural heritage into dust as they destroy scores of priceless artifacts at a museum in the city of Mosul.
The five-minute video, shared on social media on February 26, depicts militants smashing statues and other ancient treasures with sledgehammers.
The video shows a militant who highlights that the artifacts on display in the museum depict or refer to gods other than Allah and are against Islam.
A group of militants are then filmed removing plastic covers from statues and sculptures and turning them into rubble.
One of the statues destroyed by the militants depicted a 900 B.C. Assyrian protective god in the form of a winged bull.
An Iraqi Twitter user, who tweets under the name Ihsan, tweeted that the Islamic State group had "destroyed Iraq's last bit of cultural memory."
"5,000 years of human heritage are gone forever," Ihsan tweeted, adding that, "All that's left of our country's heritage are pictures of what once was. We'll show our children photos of the glory we couldn't protect."
The Islamic State group overran Mosul in June. According to The Daily Beast, the leader of Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, visited the Mosul Museum shortly after the group took control of the city.
The release of the video appearing to show militants destroying priceless Iraqi artifacts came after the country's antiquities officials called on the Obama administration in July to help save Nineveh and other sites around Mosul.
Iraqi National Museum Director Qias Hussein Rashid told The Daily Beast in July that the arrival of Islamic State was a "brutal shock" and that curators were "not able to take preventative measures." The militants told the museum staff that the ancient sculptures were "against Islam."
The shocking images of Iraq's priceless cultural heritage being reduced to rubble in the February 26 video are not the first pictures of militants willfully destroying "non-Islamic" artifacts in Iraq and Syria.
Images shared in November by Chechen Islamic State militants on the Russian social networking site VKontakte in late 2014 showed extremists smashing artifacts with hammers. The exact location where the pictures were taken in Syria was not specified.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk