Iraq’s top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani has censured the targeting of the country's cultural heritage, particularly the destruction of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, by the ISIL terrorist group.
Addressing Friday Prayers sermon in the holy city of Karbala, Sheikh Abdul Mahdi al-Karbalai, who represents the most influential Shia cleric in Iraq, said the ISIL Takfiri elements have destroyed so many artifacts in the Mosul national museum and destroyed some archeological sites in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh.
“This once again demonstrates their [ISIL] barbarism, savageness and antagonism towards the Iraqi people not only at the present time but throughout history and its ancient civilization which dates back ages,” al-Karbalai added.
UNESCO condemnation Condemnation poured in against the ISIL’s bulldozing of the ancient city of Nimrud with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) terming it as "war crime."
"I condemn with the strongest force the destruction of the site at Nimrud," said UNESCO head Irina Bokova, adding, "We cannot stay silent. The deliberate destruction of cultural heritage constitutes a war crime, and I call on all political and religious leaders in the region to stand up against this new barbarity."
She urged all “political and religious leaders in the region to stand up and remind everyone that there is absolutely no political or religious justification for the destruction of humanity’s cultural heritage.”
Iraqi government officials said on Thursday the ISIL Takfiri militants have “bulldozed” the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud.
The Takfiri group “assaulted the historic city of Nimrud and bulldozed it with heavy vehicles,” read a post on an official Facebook page of the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities.
On February 26, the ISIL terrorist group released a video showing its militants using sledgehammers and drills to smash ancient statues at the Ninawa museum in Mosul, which puts on display Assyrian artifacts dating back to the 9th century B.C.
The Takfiri terrorists have already razed to the ground a number of mosques in Syria and Iraq, many of them dating back to the early years of the Islamic civilization. The terrorists have also destroyed tombs belonging to revered Shia and Sunni figures.
ISIL terrorists, who have persecuted minorities and people of various faiths, are also targeting artifacts and museums. Officials in Mosul said in early February that the ISIL had burnt a precious collection of historic books and manuscripts in the Ninawa museum.
Tens of thousands of priceless documents, some of them registered with UNESCO, were destroyed in flames.