“I am deeply shocked by footage released today showing the destruction of statues and other artifacts of the Mosul Museum,” UNESCO Director-General Irina Bukova said.
UNESCO said that among many pieces, seven large statues from its World Heritage site of Hatra, as well as unique artifacts from the archeological sites of Ninewah and the Palace of Sennahareb have been destroyed or defaced in Mosul Museum.
“This attack is far more than a cultural tragedy – this is also a security issue as it fuels sectarianism, violent extremism and conflict in Iraq,” Bukova said.
A video published on social media on Thursday showed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known also as Daesh, militants breaking some statues with sledgehammers in Mosul Museum.
Last weekend the Daesh group attacked and burned Mosul Library, home to some 8,000 historical texts. In the library there were many hand-written books from the Ottoman, Abbasid and Ayyubid periods.
Bukova said that the Daesh acts stood in direct violation of Security Council Resolution 2199 that condemns the destruction of cultural heritage and adopts legally-binding measures to counter illicit trafficking of antiquities and cultural objects from Iraq and Syria.
“The systematic destruction of iconic components of Iraq’s rich and diverse heritage that we have been witnessing over the past months is intolerable and it must stop immediately,” Bukova said.
Daesh controls swathes regions in Iraq and Syria, where it has declared a so-called caliphate after taking the control of Iraq’s second-largest city in June 2014.