Iraq unveiled three monumental sculptures in the ancient city of Hatra on Thursday, newly restored after being vandalised by militants of the Islamic State group during their brief but brutal rule.

The Jihadists released video footage in 2015 of their orgy of destruction at Hatra in which they took guns and pickaxes to the once extensive remains of what was one of the leading entrepots between the Roman and Parhtian empires in the first and second centuries AD.

A Roman-style sculpture of a life-size figure and a series of reliefs of faces on the side of the great temple were among the restored pieces shown off to journalists.

''IS destroyed everything that was important in this city,'' senior antiquities official Ali Obeid Sholgham told AFP.

Provincial antiquities chief Khair al-Din Ahmed Naseer said works of art were ''ripped out and shattered - we found fragments all over the site''.

''We recovered some pieces, others which were missing we replaced with the same type of stone.''

The restoration work at Hatra is being carried out by Iraqi experts in collaboration with Italy's International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies with funding from the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas.

IS filmed similar acts of destruction by its militants in Mosul Museum, 100 kilometers [ 65 miles ] northeast of Hatra, and its Palmyra in neighboring Syria.

Iraqi government forces retook Hatra in 2017, several months before claiming victory over the jihadists who swept through much of the north and west of the country three years earlier. [ AFP ]


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