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Iraqi Forces capture Ancient City Nimrud from Islamic State (IS) Terrorist Group

Archaeologists first began excavating the Assyrian city of Nimrud, built nearly 3,000 years ago in the 1840s

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FILE - An Islamic State fighter holds the extremist group's signature flag and a weapon in the Iraqi city Mosul, June 23, 2014. Preparations are underway to wrest the city from IS control. VOA

Baghdad, Nov 14, 2016: Iraqi forces recaptured the ancient village of Nimrud and the site of the ruins as part of the ongoing battle for Mosul, the Islamic State (IS) terror group’s last major stronghold in the war-torn country.

The recapture took place on Sunday, according to Colonel Mohammed Ibrahim, a spokesman for Iraq’s Joint operations command.

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While the village was now under control by Iraqi forces, clashes were still underway to retake the town, less than a mile west of the ruins, Ibrahim told CNN.

Nimrud is 30 km southeast of Mosul.

Archaeologists first began excavating the Assyrian city of Nimrud — built nearly 3,000 years ago — in the 1840s.

In the decades that followed, they unearthed priceless treasures from the city, including palaces adorned with unique frescoes and giant sculptures.

Last year, the IS blew up the ancient walled city.

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Unesco described the deliberate destruction of Nimrud as a “war crime”.

Nimrud flourished between 900 B.C. and 612 B.C. Buildings there “have yielded thousands of carved ivories, mostly made in the 9th and 8th centuries B.C., now one of the richest collections of ivory in the world,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica’s website.

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The famous British mystery novelist Agatha Christie accompanied her husband, archaeologist Max Mallowan, at his excavation in Nimrud and helped clean some of the ivories.

The Iraqi and Kurdish troop offensive to liberate Mosul began on October 17 with a three-pronged offensive along the north, south and eastern fronts, which has enabled the liberation of various eastern Mosul neighbourhoods. (IANS)

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Thousands Displaced as SDF Targeting Civilians Advances on Last IS Territory in Syria

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

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Syria
A U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighter stands atop a hill in the desert outside the village of Baghuz, Syria, Feb. 14, 2019. VOA

Islamic State (IS) fighters are targeting civilians who are trying to flee the last territory held by the terror group in eastern Syria, U.S.-backed forces told VOA on Thursday.

Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a U.S.-backed Kurdish-led alliance, said that IS militants hit a road used by civilians to escape violence as the battle to free the town of Baghuz in Syria’s Deir el-Zour province enters its sixth day.

“IS has blocked that road to prevent civilians from coming to the SDF,” SDF fighter Ali Ahmed said. “They have targeted civilians there, but we have responded to their attacks against civilians.”

Ahmed said that some families of IS fighters are among the fleeing civilians.

Located near the Iraqi border, Baghuz is the last stronghold held by IS extremists in Syria. With the help of the U.S.-led coalition, SDF fighters have pushed out IS from all territories it once held since 2014.

Fierce fighting between IS militants and the U.S.-backed fighters continues as the latter try to gain ground on Baghuz on several fronts.

“We have two main obstacles as we advance on Baghuz,” Mustafa Bali, an SDF spokesperson, told VOA. “The first one is that [IS] terrorists are holding on to a number of civilians to use them as a bargain chip for their exit.”

Bali said the second obstacle for the SDF forces is that IS has a number of hostages who had been arrested and detained by the militants.

IS controls about 5 square kilometers of territory inside the Syrian town, local military officials said.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview. VOA

Ivan Hasib, a Syrian reporter covering the battle, told VOA that he witnessed an unusual movement by U.S. military vehicles in the area.

“It seems that even the Americans are trying to rescue those civilians and hostages from IS,” Hasib said in a phone interview.

He said the remaining IS fighters in Baghuz are hoping to exchange hostages for a safe exit into the Iraqi desert.

Also Read: Islamic State Using Women, Children as Human Shields to Postpone Defeat

“There must be some sort of negotiations between IS and SDF about the hostages, because even [U.S.-led] coalition airstrikes have stopped since Tuesday night,” Hasib said, adding that SDF fighters were forced to pause their military operations on the northeastern front in Baghuz.

“We can’t start marching toward it from this side because of civilians. Many civilians are using this road to this side. So we’re here to protect them,” Mezlum Kobani, an SDF commander, told VOA.

According to SDF officials, more than 5,000 civilians have been rescued from IS in Baghuz. (VOA)