Iraqi Government Investigating Possible ISIS Attack On Third Ancient Site

An Iraqi minister says ISIS militants are very close to destroying another ancient site in the north of the country.

Philippe Desmazes / Getty Images

The facade of the royal palace in Hatra.

The Iraqi government is investigating whether ancient archaeological site of Khorsabad, in northern Iraq, is being targeted by ISIS.

Adel Shirshab, the country's tourism and antiquities minister, told the Associated Press about the government's fears that militants will soon reach the ancient site and start destroying artifacts. "The world should bear the responsibility and put an end to the atrocities of the militants, otherwise I think the terrorist groups will continue with their violent acts," he said Sunday.

But Saeed Mamuzini, a Kurdish official from Mosul, told AP the extremist group has already begun destroying the ancient city.

It is the latest in a series of historically valuable Iraqi areas to be targeted by extremists. On Friday the group ravaged 3,000-year-old Nimrud, and on Saturday they pillaged 2,000-year-old Hatra – both UNESCO and world heritage sites. Khorsabad was the capital of Assyria, built by King Sargo II in 721 B.C.

UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, has called the destruction a "war crime."

ISIS, who since last year have taken control of large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria, believe the ancient sites and relics violate their interpretation of Islamic law.