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Radical Islamists with Hammers vs. Ancient Syrian Artifacts: Islamists with Hammers Win

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Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters smash 3,000-year-old Assyrian statue in latest act of cultural genocide

ibz-mediumFor The Times of IsraelIlan Ben Zion reports: Fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a radical militia that controls a large swath of eastern Syria, confiscated and destroyed illegally excavated antiquities from an ancient Mesopotamian site.

In an act of cultural genocide strikingly similar to the Taliban’s demolition of the Buddhas of Bamiyan in 2001, the ISIL fighters appear – in pictures recently uploaded by a group working to protect Syria’s rich historical heritage — to smash a 3,000-year-old Neo-Assyrian statue illegally removed from a nearby archaeological site. Another image shows a man placing his foot — an act of disrespect in Arab culture — on the face of the Assyrian statue before its destruction.

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Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant stand in front of an Assyrian statue before destroying it (photo courtesy of APSA/Abou Mouseb)

Last month, the Syrian antiquities authority said in a statement that it had received notice that artifacts that “appear to be the result of an unauthorized digging” had been plundered from Tell Ajaja, the ruins of the Assyrian provincial capital Shadikanni on the Khabur River, a tributary of the Euphrates.

At least one of the items photographed and published by the Association for the Preservation of Syrian Archaeology appeared among those recently confiscated by ISIL.

A member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant desecrates an Assyrian statue by putting his foot on its face before it’s smashed (photo courtesy of APSA/Abou Mouseb)

A member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant desecrates an Assyrian statue by putting his foot on its face before it’s smashed (photo courtesy of APSA/Abou Mouseb)

The pictures, taken in Syria’s far eastern Hasakeh Province, were also said to be of artifacts removed from Tell Ajaja. The site lies approximately 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of the modern provincial capital of Hasakeh and 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Iraqi border.

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