The United Nations Security Council on Friday condemned what it described as the latest “barbaric terrorist acts” in Iraq by Islamic State militants, including the destruction of priceless religious and cultural artifacts.
A video published by the ultra-radical Islamist militant group Islamic State on Thursday showed men attacking ancient Assyrian statues and sculptures, some of them identified as antiquities from the 7th century BC, with sledgehammers and drills, saying they were symbols of idolatry.
“The members of the Security Council strongly condemned the ongoing barbaric terrorist acts in Iraq by ISIL (Islamic State)” the council said in a statement. It also reiterated that the group “must be defeated and that the intolerance, violence, and hatred it espouses must be stamped out.”
Among the recent acts by Islamic State the 15-nation council cited were the abduction of 100 Sunni tribesmen from outside Tikrit, the immolation of 45 Iraqis and daily attacks targeting civilians in Baghdad.
It also condemned “the deliberate destruction of irreplaceable religious and cultural artifacts housed in the Mosul Museum and burning of thousands of books and rare manuscripts from the Mosul Library.”
Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, has taken over large swaths of Iraq and Syriaand has been accused of numerous human rights violations, including mass murder, beheadings, burning hostages alive and other atrocities.
Earlier this month the Security Council banned all trade in antiquities from war-torn Syria, threatened sanctions on anyone buying oil from Islamic State and al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front militants and urged states to stop kidnap ransom payments.
It is not clear how much money Islamic State has generate from sale of illicitly traded antiquities, but Security Council diplomats have said that it was significant.
The head of the U.N. culture, education and science agency UNESCO, Irina Bokova, also condemned the destruction of artifacts in the Mosul Museum.
“I condemn this as a deliberate attack against Iraq’s millennial history and culture, and as an inflammatory incitement to violence and hatred,” she said in a statement.