Militant Islamic group Islamic State (Isis) has released a video online which appears to show the complete destruction of the ancient Iraqi city of Nimrud. In the video (which has now been taken down by YouTube), militants are seen destroying artefacts and walls with modern machinery, toppling gypsum slabs carved with Assyrian deities and placing barrels of explosives all around the site before blowing it up.
Nimrud is 30km south east of the IS-controlled city of Mosul. Originally known as Kalhu, it was built by Assyrian king Shalmaneser I in the 13th century BC and was a thriving city until 600BC.
Nimrud was discovered by Western archaeologists in 1820 and frequently looted over the centuries, as well as being damaged during the 2003 invasion by US-led forces. The site is listed on Unesco's list of world heritage sites.
IS considers all statues, idols and shrines that do not honour Allah to be un-Islamic – even those that predate Islam. The militant group said it destroyed the city in March but some archaeologists expressed doubt over the reports. The new footage would appear to confirm the destruction of the city.
Speaking to camera, an IS fighter said: "Whenever we are able in a piece of land to remove the signs of idolatry and spread monotheism, we will do it. God has honoured us in the state of Islam by removing and destroying everything that was held to be equal to him and worshipped without him."
IS is believed to have destroyed Mosul library, along with 8,000 ancient manuscripts. Extreme Islamic groups were also responsible for destroying Timbuktu's ancient library and the Buddhas of Bamiyan in Afghanistan.
There has been mounting speculation that IS is on the defensive having been expelled from Tikrit by Iraq's army and Shia militias but the latest footage shows it remains in control of large areas of both Iraq and Syria.