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Iraqi Forces Say They Have Seized Hatra Antiquities Site

Hatra is believed to have been built in the second or third century BC by the Seleucid Empire. IS militants destroyed it along with other major historical sites in and around Mosul after seizing much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014.

PTI

Updated:April 26, 2017, 10:16 PM IST
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Iraqi Forces Say They Have  Seized Hatra Antiquities Site
Iraqi security forces members sit in a military vehicle in Iraq. (Representative Image)
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Baghdad: Iraqi paramilitary forces said on Wednesday that they have captured Hatra, a 2,000-year-old historical site near the northern city of Mosul, where US-backed forces have been battling the Islamic State group for months.

Karim al-Nouri, a spokesman for the state-sanctioned force made up mainly of Shiite militias, told state TV they captured the UNESCO world heritage site and were around three kilometres from a nearby town with the same name, without providing further details.

Iraqi forces often claim to have driven IS from areas that are still far from secure, or that quickly fall back into the militants' hands.

Hatra is believed to have been built in the second or third century BC by the Seleucid Empire. IS militants destroyed it along with other major historical sites in and around Mosul after seizing much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014.

The extremist group believes antiquities promote idolatry, though it is also believed to sell artifacts on the black market to fund its operations.

In April 2015, IS released a video showed the extremists smashing sledgehammers into Hatra's walls and firing assault rifles at priceless statues. At one point, the video showed a militant on a ladder using a sledgehammer to bang repeatedly on the back of a carved face until it crashed to the ground and broke into pieces.

Hatra, located some 110 kilometres southwest of Mosul, flourished during the first and second centuries as a religious and trading centre. It was a large, fortified city during the Parthian Empire and capital of the first Arab kingdom.

The site is said to have withstood invasions by the Romans in AD 116 and AD 198 thanks to its high, thick walls.

The ancient trading centre was surrounded by more than 160 towers. At its heart were a series of temples with a grand temple at the centre - a structure supported by columns that once rose to 100 feet.

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