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    Ultra-radical Islamist militants in northern Iraq have destroyed a priceless collection of statues and sculptures from the ancient Assyrian era, inflicting what an archaeologist described as incalculable damage to a piece of shared human history.

    EXCLUSIVE: Iran Offers Safekeeping for Iraq’s Ancient Relics from ISIL

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    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)
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    Iran sent Iraqi authorities a letter offering to take Iraq's cultural objects for safekeeping to protect them from jihadists after a video emerged of Islamic State militants smashing ancient relics in the city of Mosul, Dr Hamid Ziaeeparvar, who heads Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization's press service, told Sputnik.

    Men use sledgehammers on a toppled statue in a museum at a location said to be Mosul in this still image taken from an undated video.
    © REUTERS / Social media Web site via Reuters TV
    "Iran commits to transporting the relics to Iran and keeping them in a safe place. At a chosen moment upon the request of Iraqi authorities cultural artifacts will be returned unscathed," Dr Ziaeeparvar said.

    The letter was sent from Masoud Soltanifar, the head of Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization, to Iraqi Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Adel Fahad Shershab. Iran has not received a reply yet.

    "Hopefully, our initiative will strike a chord with the Iraqi counterparts. The Islamic Republic will make every effort to keep Iraqi artifacts safe," Dr Ziaeeparvar added. Last week, footage emerged showing radical Sunnis destroying priceless Iraqi statues at a museum in Mosul. Extremists said the art, dating as far back as the 7th century B.C., promotes idolatry.

    Islamists seek to wipe away the history of Iraqi people, Prof. Dr. Mohamed Abdelhalim Nureldin, former head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told Sputnik. "They try to justify their actions by referring to cultural objects as idols," he said.

    "We should ask ourselves whether Muslim rulers had ordered to destroy cultural objects in lands that became Muslim. There is only one answer: no. No one had touched Babylon, Assyrian or Ancient Egyptian relics. Nothing had been destroyed. We consider the statues to be cultural heritage. We do not worship them," the professor explained.

    Prof. Dr. Mohamed Abdelhalim Nureldin warned that if extremists were not dealt with, they would be able to spread their influence on Egypt and Libya placing their cultural heritage at risk.

    Topic:
    Violence Erupts as Islamic State Rises (1881)

    Related:

    UN Security Council Condemns Islamic State's Cultural Destruction in Mosul
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    Ancient 2,500-Year-Old Egyptian Mummy to Be Conserved at Chicago Museum
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    Daesh, destruction, radical Islam, art, culture, cultural heritage, Mosul, Iran, Iraq
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