Iraqi forces seize ancient city of Hatra from Daesh

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In this  July 27, 2005 file photo, a temple to the Shamash sun god still stands over 1,750 years after the Sassanian empire razed the Mesopotamian city of Hatra, 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo)
In this July 27, 2005 file photo, a temple to the Shamash sun god still stands over 1,750 years after the Sassanian empire razed the Mesopotamian city of Hatra, 320 kilometers (200 miles) north of Baghdad, Iraq. (AP Photo)

Iraqi pro-government forces announced Wednesday their recapture of the UNESCO-listed ancient city of Hatra from the Daesh terrorist group.

"Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization) forces liberated the ancient city of Hatra... after fierce clashes with the enemy," said the Shiite-dominated paramilitary group.

Karim al-Nouri, a spokesman for the state-sanctioned militias, said they captured the UNESCO world heritage site and are around three kilometers (two miles) from a nearby town with the same name, without providing further details.

Hatra lies in the desert southwest of Iraq's second city Mosul.Daesh destroyed priceless objects in Hatra and at other archaeological sites after seizing swathes of Iraq and Syria in a 2014 offensive.

The full extent of the harm to Hatra remains unclear.

Hatra, known as Al-Hadhr in Arabic, Hatra is believed to have been built in the second or third century B.C. by the Seleucid Empire.

The city became a religious and trading center under the Parthian empire.

Its imposing fortifications helped it withstand sieges by the forces of two Roman emperors.

Hatra finally succumbed to Ardashir I, founder of the Sassanid dynasty but the city remained well-preserved over the centuries that followed.

The Hashd al-Shaabi launched a three-pronged offensive Tuesday to retake the nearby modern town of Hatra, the statement said.

Iraqi pro-government forces backed by a US-led international coalition have been fighting since October to oust Daesh from Mosul, its last major urban bastion in Iraq.

The Hashd al-Shaabi is an umbrella group for militias that mobilized to fight Daesh and were later integrated into Iraq's official defense apparatus.

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