Isis militants continue path of destruction in Hatra by 'demolishing 2,000 year-old ruins'

Extremist group bulldozed Nimrud on Friday

Iraqi officials say Isis militants are continuing in their path of destruction and have begun attacking ancient ruins in Hatra, just a day after bulldozing the Assyrian archaeological site of Nimrud.

Saeed Mamuzini, a Kurdish official from Mosul, in Iraq, told the Associated Press militants started carrying away artefacts from Hatra as early as Thursday and began demolishing the site on Saturday.

"The city of Hatra is very big and many artefacts of that era were protected inside the site," he said. Isis, who use looted aretfacts as a major source of funding, are believed to have taken away gold and silver before destroying ruins.

Adel Shirshab also voiced concerns militants are removing artefacts from the UNESCO world heritage site, located 110 kilometres (68 miles) southwest of the city of Mosul, and that they were about to demolish the site.

Hatra was a large fortified city during the Parthian Empire and capital of the first Arab kingdom. The ancient city is said to have withstood invasions by the Romans in AD 116 and 198 thanks to its high, thick walls reinforced by towers.

An ancient pre-Christian temple in Hatra featured in the 1973 horror film The Exorcist was seized by Isis in June 2014.

Officials voiced fears then militants could destroy stone statues held within as idolatrous images.

On Friday, UNESCO condemned the bulldozing of Nimrud as a “war crime” and urged those in Iraq and elsewhere “to do everything possible to protect this heritage”. The site was founded over 3,300 years ago.

The extent of the devastation in Nimrud remains unclear. A spokesperson for A Demand for Action, a global organisation to support the protection of the Assyrians and other minorities, told The Independent sources on the ground were still working to determine what has survived.

Isis militants have bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud, pictured here undergoing maintenance in 2001

Isis has been on a mission to destroy major pieces of Iraq’s cultural history ever since it captured territories there and in Syria.

Isis previously a video showing the destruction of statues in Mosul

Militants recently ransacked Mosul library, looting and destroying thousands of historic manuscripts and books.

Additional reporting by agencies