Hatra, an important archaeological site in Northern Iraq, is being steadily demolished by an Islamic State militant group. The site, also known to many as al-Hadr, was an ancient city in the Ninawa Governorate and al-Jazira region of Iraq. Several onlookers within living distance of Hatra witnessed huge explosions as bulldozers brought down Hatra. With the action being so close to home, fear permeated the atmosphere as witnesses spoke on the condition of anonymity.
According to Kurdish official, Saeed Mamuzini from MosulArtifacts, valuables were already being taken away earlier in the week, Thursday, before the demolition began on Saturday. Several priceless items in the 2,000 year old city are now unrecoverable, or stolen.
Hatra has a famed history as a fortified city during the Parthian Empire – strong enough to withstand the Romans in AD 116 and 198. Considered an UNESCO world heritage site, the site was once grand in appearance, with columns over 100 feet and reinforced towers. The trading center alone was a lengthly six miles and was surrounded by temples, including a much famed grand temple.
The extremist group responsible for its demolition is Sunni, a group whose sole mission is to purge ancient relics that promote idolatry that violates the fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law. Sunni recently released a video of them destroying the valuables and artifacts in the Mosul museum, before they made their way to Hatra. Part of their string of demonstrations includes the burning of hundreds of priceless books from both the Mosul Library and Mosul University, of which included irreplaceable manuscripts.
The Sunni group fell on the radar of United Nations Secretary, General Ban Ki-Moon, after looting valuables from Nimrud before bulldozing it. In the heat of the moment, General Ban Ki-Moon spared no words, summing up the act as a war crime. With Nimrud being a 3000-year old city, the history lost devastated millions involved directly and indirectly.
After the Nimrud incident, many feared that much more destruction was to be expected. Now, there is a concentrated effort to stop the demolition, but it is slow moving. The ministry is calling for action from the global community in order to halt these atrocities and the future loss of irreplaceable history in Iraq. Residents in Mosul, for example, protected Mosul’s famed 850-year old crooked minaret by surrounding it. The Sunni group retreated due to their efforts, but unfortunately have not been stopped since.
With the Sunni getting more aggressive as time goes on, the US presence in the area is planning to retake the city of Mosul and slow the power that Sunni is slowly building up.