Baghdad (Iraqinews.com) – Iraqi security forces foiled on Wednesday a plot by Islamic State (IS) militants to detonate an ancient citadel in Tal Afar district in Nineveh, a security official was quoted as saying.
“A force from the Nineveh Operation Command found four barrels filled with the highly explosive C4 material, 10 explosive belts and 100 mortar shells placed under Tal Afar Citadel in Nineveh,” Yehia Rasool, a spokesman for the Security Media Center, told Alforat News.
“Three other explosive barrels, two rockets and 11 landmines were also found on site,” Rasool said, adding that the explosives were planned to be used by IS militants for detonating the ancient citadel.
Tal Afar Citadel is believed to be built by the Ottoman Empire, although it contains remains dating back to the Assyrian period.
Following the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the citadel housed the mayoral, municipal and police headquarters of Tal Afar. It was used as a base by American forces in the Battle of Tal Afar in 2005.
After falling to the militant Islamic State group in June 2014, the citadel was used as a prison for women and girls who were to be forcibly married to ISIL members.
In December 2014, the IS group blew up the city’s northern and western walls, causing extensive damage. The militants also excavated some of the ruins within the citadel, probably to look for antiquities which they could sell. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova