(AFP) The Iraqi military said Sunday that soldiers south of Mosul have recaptured the Nimrud area, home to the site of an ancient Assyrian city that was blown up by the ISIL Takfiri group.
“Units of the 9th Armored Division completely liberate the Nimrud (area) and raise the Iraqi flag over the buildings,” Iraq’s Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement quoting a top military officer.
The JOC did not specifically mention the Nimrud archaeological site, which is located a little over a kilometer (less than a mile) west of the village that bears its name.
Iraqi forces seeking to drive ISIL from second city Mosul also retook another village southeast of the site of Nimrud, which was founded in the 13th century and was one of the great centers of the ancient Middle East.
The city became the capital of the Assyrian empire, whose rulers built vast palaces and monuments that have drawn archaeologists from around the world for more than 150 years.
In April last year, ISIL posted video on the internet of its militants sledge hammering monuments before planting explosives around the site and blowing it up.
It was part of a campaign of destruction by the insurgents against heritage sites under their control that also took in ancient Nineveh on the outskirts of Mosul, Hatra in the desert to the south and Palmyra in neighboring Syria.