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The massive scale of destruction to the historic city of Nimrud by Islamic State has been discovered by Iraqi forces, reported Sky News.
The troops entered the area on Sunday in what was the most significant gain in their push further into Mosul in the last several days.On Wednesday they came under heavy attack by rockets and suicide bombers from Islamic State fighters.
But they have established a foothold in the east of the city and progressed to the Tahrir area where families fled from their houses to escape the fighting.
Mortars from IS-held territory wounded at least five children trying to flee after they were evacuated by troops.
Away from the fighting, Iraqi forces assessed the damage to Nimrud, about 19 miles southeast of Mosul.
Major General Dhiaa al-Saadi, the deputy commander of Iraqi ground forces who oversaw the operation, said IS had almost completely destroyed the town's ancient Assyrian archaeological site.
He said: "We have information that all of the archaeological sites inside Mosul have already been destroyed."
The discovery in the late 1980s of treasures in Nimrud's royal tombs was one of the 20th century's most significant archaeological finds.
The government said the IS militants, who captured the site in June 2014, destroyed it the following year, using heavy military vehicles.
In a field outside an ancient palace, shattered remains of intricate carvings lie broken in the dust.
Remnants of elaborate wall panels and colossal statues of winged bulls, they stood at the site for nearly three millennia, reminders of a mighty empire which stretched across the Middle East.
At the northern edge of the old city, a ziggurat - or terraced pyramid - towered over the palace and nearby temples.
When IS militants swept through northern Iraq two years ago they ransacked ancient cities, religious sites and palaces which the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim zealots idolised.
The ziggurat has been reduced to a pile of dirt and covered in tyre tracks, apparently flattened by bulldozers in the last two months before Islamic State fighters were driven out.
Palace walls have been stripped of the carved facades which adorned them and just a few pieces remain in place.
Fragments of the winged bulls - or lamassus - which stood at one of the palace entrances are strewn in a field.
Read more at skynews.com.