A video released by the Islamic State on Thursday shows several militants with sledgehammers and drills destroying priceless ancient artifacts in Iraq'a Mosul Museum.
The video was shown as part of a campaign of fear that the Islamic State has begun to show that all signs of what they see as heresy will be eliminated. Other reports indicate that IS has stolen and sold some ancient artifacts to further fund their terrorist campaigns.
"The destruction of cultural heritage is reprehensible and criminal," said U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric who added that the U.N.'s cultural agency is currently investigating.
"Oh Muslims, these artifacts that are behind me were idols and gods worshipped by people who lived centuries ago instead of Allah," an unidentified man says on the video. In the background, you can see pieces of an Assyrian winged bull that dates back to the 7th Century B.C.
"The so-called Assyrians and Akkadians and others looked to gods for war, agriculture and rain to whom they offered sacrifices," he added, referring to those non-Muslim groups that that settled throughout Mesopotamia in what is now Iraq, eastern Syria and southern Turkey.
"Our prophet ordered us to remove all these statues as his followers did when they conquered nations," he added.
The video was posted on a known Islamic State account that has posted previous videos for the group and it bore the logo of the Islamic State. While the authenticity of the video is still being investigated, several archaeologists and experts confirms that the artifacts being destroyed are authentic.
One such expert is Professor Amir al-Jumaili of the Archaeology College in Mosul who confirmed the authenticity to the Associated Press. "I'm totally shocked," he said. "It's a catastrophe. With the destruction of these artifacts, we can no longer be proud of Mosul's civilization."
UNESCO's director general, Irina Bokova, has asked for an emergency meeting to address the issue and to further act to protect Iraq's vast cultural heritage. "I condemn this as a deliberate attack against Iraq's millennial history and culture, and as an inflammatory incitement to violence and hatred," she said.
Iraq has a long history for Christians, as well. Not only is the Garden of Eden believed to be located somewhere in Iraq between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, but Jesus' apostle Thomas brought the words of Jesus to the region in the 1st century A.D.
Last month, when ISIS was threatening to take over Iraq, Christian monks began collecting the ancient Christian artifacts and shipping them out of the region to an undisclosed location.
"The father or mother try to save the first thing - the children," said Father Najeeb Michaeel in an interview with NPR. "So these books [are] my children."