In another assault on Iraq's cultural legacy, Islamic State militants reportedly destroyed the remains of the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud Thursday, an attack Iraq's tourism and antiquities ministry says "defy the will of the world and the feelings of humanity."

A brief history lesson on Nimrud's importance from the Associated Press:

Nimrud was the second capital of Assyria, an ancient kingdom that began in about 900 B.C., partially in present-day Iraq, and became a great regional power. The city, which was destroyed in 612 B.C., is located on the Tigris River just south of Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, which was captured by the Islamic State group in June.

And while many of the site's monuments were long ago excavated and are now preserved in museums, much of the ruins remained. Nimrud's bulldozing follows the Islamic State's raid and destruction of precious artifacts held at the Mosul Museum.

"Islamic State members came to the Nimrud archaeological city and looted the valuables in it and then they proceeded to level the site to the ground," a Mosul tribal source told Reuters. "There used to be statues and walls as well as a castle that Islamic State has destroyed completely."

One politician "from Iraq's Assyrian Christian community" theorized to Reuters that the militants leveled the site as a cover up after having stolen and sold off a number of pieces.

The ruin's destruction is especially devastating given the great lengths taken to preserve them a decade ago. From the AP:

The late 1980s discovery of treasures in Nimrud's royal tombs was one of the 20th century's most significant archaeological finds. After Iraq was invaded in 2003, archaeologists were relieved when they were found hidden in the country's central Bank — in a secret vault-inside-a-vault submerged in sewage water.

Nimrud's bulldozing, the BBC reports, "is already being compared with the Taliban's demolition of the Bamiyan Buddha rock sculptures in Afghanistan in 2001."

[Image via AP]

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