0941 GMT February 29, 2020
Karim al-Nouri, a spokesman for the force made up mainly of Shia militias, told state TV they liberated the UNESCO world heritage site and were around three kilometers (two miles) from a nearby town with the same name, without providing further details, AP reported.
Also Press TV quoted Al-Sumaria news website as reporting that Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, said in a statement on Wednesday that its forces took control of the ancient town in Nineveh Province, which lies to the south of Mosul, after fierce clashes with the Daesh terrorists.
The development came a day after the Iraqi forces launched an operation to liberate the town and its surrounding areas.
Hatra is believed to have been built in the second or third century B.C. by the Seleucid Empire. Daesh Terrorists destroyed it along with other major historical sites in and around Mosul after seizing much of northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. The terrorist group believes antiquities promote idolatry, though it is also believed to sell artifacts on the black market to fund its operations, AP added.
In April 2015, Daesh released a video showed the group's smashing sledgehammers into Hatra's walls and firing assault rifles at priceless statues. At one point, the video showed a terrorist on a ladder using a sledgehammer to bang repeatedly on the back of a carved face until it crashed to the ground and broke into pieces.
Hatra, located some 110 kilometers (68 miles) southwest of Mosul, flourished during the first and second centuries as a religious and trading center. It was a large, fortified city during the Parthian Empire and capital of the first Arab kingdom.
The site is said to have withstood invasions by the Romans in A.D. 116 and A.D. 198 thanks to its high, thick walls. The ancient trading center was surrounded by more than 160 towers. At its heart were a series of temples with a grand temple at the center – a structure supported by columns that once rose to 30 meters (100 feet).