Middle East

UN seeks protection for ancient Nimrud site wrecked by IS

Sami Al-Khoja, management and liaison officer with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) pauses after seeing the the ancient site of Nimrud, Iraq, for the first time after it was destroyed by Islamic State militants, on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Sami Al-Khoja, management and liaison officer with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) pauses after seeing the the ancient site of Nimrud, Iraq, for the first time after it was destroyed by Islamic State militants, on Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)  (The Associated Press)

The U.N. says that Islamic State extremists have destroyed the ancient site of Nimrud almost beyond recognition, and left its ruins vulnerable to thieves and further damage.

Wednesday marked the first visit to a cultural heritage site seized back from the Islamic State group for UNESCO, the world body's cultural organization, and perhaps a sign of what lies ahead in Iraq and Syria. Nimrud was seized in summer 2014 by IS, and the group made a point of filming the destruction of its Northwest Palace.

As the assault on Mosul drew closer this fall, the group also bulldozed the ziggurat, a 140-foot tall structure that dominated the site. That destruction has not yet emerged on IS propaganda.