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IS releases new video showing destruction of artifacts

New video footage released by Islamist extremists shows further damage to the ancient Iraqi city of Hatra. The UNESCO World Heritage site was attacked last month.

A new video purported to have been released by "Islamic State" (IS) extremists shows militants using sledgehammers to smash up the ancient city of Hatra in Iraq.

The images also show IS fighters destroying the UNESCO world heritage site by shooting Kalashnikov assault rifles at priceless statues.

The IS attacked Hatra last month. However, the extent of the damage remains unclear as the territory is still controlled by the Islamic militant group.

The latest undated video was released a day after IS lost the city of Tikrit to government and allied forces, its biggest military setback yet in Iraq.

Iraqi national treasures destroyed

In a tweet posted after the release of the latest video, UNESCO said:

The images show a militant at the top of a ladder using a sledgehammer to smash a carved head off the front of a building. It can be seen crashing to the ground, breaking into several pieces.

A militant can also be seen firing a Kalashnikov rifle at another carving while others hack into the bases of larger sculptures.

One of the militants, who spoke in Arabic with a distinct Gulf accent, declared that they destroyed the historic site because it is "worshipped instead of God."

Temple of Mrn

Temple of Mrn, Hatra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site

The IS group, which has seized large swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria to form a self-declared caliphate or Islamic Republic, has destroyed ancient relics, which militants claim promote idolatry that violates their interpretation of Islamic law.

Another video released in February showed militants smashing up artifacts in the Mosul Museum. In January, the group burned hundreds of books from the Mosul library and Mosul University including many rare manuscripts.

The majority of the artifacts destroyed in the Mosul Museum attack were from Hatra.

lw/gsw (AFP, AP)

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