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Middle East

Iraq claims victory over 'Islamic State' in Nimrud

An ancient city known for its Assyrian relics has been liberated from the militant group, the Iraqi army has said. In 2015, the "Islamic State" destroyed several antiquities in what UNESCO said amounted to a "war crime."

Iraqi forces on Sunday recaptured the ancient city of Nimrud, marking another success in a campaign to uproot the "Islamic State" militant group, said Iraq's Joint Operations Command (JOC).

"Troops of the 9th Armored Brigade have fully liberated Nimrud and raised the Iraqi flag over its buildings," said Abdul Amir Rasheed, commander of the government campaign in Mosul.

"The troops have inflicted casualties and hardware losses on the enemy," he added without providing further details of the operation.

However, several army officers told news agencies that Iraqi forces were still in the process of hunting down "Islamic State" fighters and defusing explosives in the area.

The militant group had captured the ancient city in 2014 during a violent campaign in which it gained control of large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria.

'War crime'

In 2015, the "Islamic State" circulated a video online showing its fighters destroying antiquities and artifacts with sledgehammers and explosives.

The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) called the militant group's actions a "war crime."

Last month, Iraqi forces launched a campaign to reclaim the city of Mosul, where "Islamic State" leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had announced the creation of a so-called "caliphate."

Backed by Kurdish peshmerga and Shiite militias, Iraqi forces have made small albeit significant gains in pushing the militant group out of Iraq's third-largest city.

Meanwhile in Syria, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) launched a separate offensive to capture Raqqa, considered the militant group's de facto capital.

ls/rc (AFP, dpa)

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