National Geographic reports that the Mashki and Nergal Gates at the ancient site of Ninevah in Iraq have been destroyed by ISIS, according to photos obtained by the magazine. Michael Danti, a professor of archaeology at Boston University and codirector of the Cultural Heritage Initiative (CHI), which works with the State Department to record sites destroyed by ISIS, confirmed the destruction. Danti came to the conclusion after hearing of the destruction from reliable sources in Mosul and seeing photos made available to the CHI in which an earthmover stands where the Nergal Gate once stood.
ISIS has moved on from the gates of Ninevah to other gates and walls inside, according to unconfirmed accounts. Though Danti hesitates to offer full details, he explained to National Geographic, “[ISIS] is essentially sending a signal to the government of Iraq that if they continue with their offensive on Mosul they can expect a scorched earth policy from Islamic State, in both Mosul and the Iraq theater but also in Raqqa in the Syrian theatre.”
The Iraqi army is currently in the midst of organizing an opposition to free Mosul from the rule of the Islamic State. Since June 2014 ISIS has destroyed a mosque dedicated to the prophet Jonah, sculptures in the Mosul museum, and Ninevah’s main libraries.