Islamic State militants destroyed the archaeological site at Iraq's ancient city of Hatra

Militants attacked Hatra, a UNESCO World Heritage site

Baku. 4 Aprel. REPORT.AZ/  Islamic State extremists at Iraq's ancient city of Hatra destroyed the archaeological site by smashing sledgehammers into its walls and shooting Kalashnikov assault rifles at priceless statues, Report informs citing the Associated Press.

Militants attacked Hatra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, last month, officials and local residents said, though the extent of the damage remains unclear as it is in territory still controlled by the Islamic State group.

The video, released overnight Friday, shows a militant on a ladder using a sledgehammer to bang repeatedly on the back of one of the carved faces until it crashes to the ground and breaks into pieces. The video also shows a militant firing a Kalashnikov rifle at another, while men chop away the bases of some of the larger wall sculptures.

One of the militants, who speaks Arabic with a distinct Gulf accent on the video, declares they destroyed the site because it is "worshipped instead of God." The Islamic State group, which holds a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared caliphate, has been destroying ancient relics they say promote idolatry that violates their fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law. Authorities also believe they've sold others on the black market to fund their atrocities.

Hatra, located 110 kilometers (68 miles) southwest of the Islamic State-held city of Mosul, 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 A.D. 116 and A.D. 198 thanks to its high, thick walls reinforced by towers. The ancient trading center spanned 6 kilometers (4 miles) in circumference and was supported by more than 160 towers. At its heart are a series of temples with a grand temple at the center - a structure supported by columns that once rose to 100 feet.

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