(AINA) -- According to the Assyrian website www.ankawa.com, ISIS is planning to destroy the walls of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian Empire and one of the most important archaeological sites in Iraq. Nineveh was sacked in 612 B.C. when the Assyrian Empire was overthrown.
Residents of the Bab Nergal area of Mosul said ISIS has informed them that it will blow up the walls of Nineveh with the start of operations to liberate Mosul by the Iraqi army.
In the last month ISIS has seized the content of the cultural museum in Mosul as well as destroyed Assyrian monuments in the city, which ISIS claims "distort Islam."
Assyrians are the the only indigenous people of Iraq, going back to 4750 B.C. In 2003, just before the U.S. invasion, there were 1.5 million Assyrians living in Iraq. Today there are about 500,000 remaining. A sustained, low grade genocide (report) perpetrated by Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds drove hundreds of thousands of Assyrians into exile in Syria, Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon.
On August 7 of 2014, ISIS moved into the Nineveh Plain, the last stronghold of Assyrians in Iraq, forcing nearly 200,000 Assyrians to flee their homes and villages, where they now live as refugees in the Dohuk and Arbel areas.