More than 8,000 rare books and manuscripts – including books printed in the 19th century in Iraq’s first printing house – have been burned by Islamic State militants in Mosul, despite pleas from the public.

“ISIS militants bombed the Mosul Public Library. They used improvised explosive devices,” Ghanim al-Ta'an, the director of the library, told the Fiscal Times.

Among the lost collections in the attack – which took place Sunday – were manuscripts from the 18th century, Ottoman-era books, a sand glass used by ancient Arabs and Iraqi newspapers from the early 20th century.

The library also housed personal libraries of more than 100 notable families from the city over the last century, the Fiscal Times reports.

“900 years ago, the books of the Arab philosopher Averroes were collected before his eyes...and burned,” said Rayan al-Hadidi, an activist and a blogger from Mosul. “One of his students started crying while witnessing the burning.”

In addition to the library attack, ISIS on Sunday reportedly destroyed the church of Mary the Virgin in Mosul and Mosul’s University theater.

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