The video, released overnight Friday, shows a militant on a ladder using a sledgehammer to bang repeatedly on the back of one of the carved faces until it crashes to the ground and breaks into pieces. The video also shows a militant firing a Kalashnikov rifle at another, while men chop away the bases of some of the larger wall sculptures.
The video corresponded with Associated Press reporting on the attack and was posted to a militant website frequently used by the group.
One of the militants, who speaks Arabic with a distinct Gulf accent on the video, declares they destroyed the site because it is “worshipped instead of God.” The Islamic State group, which holds a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in its self-declared caliphate, has been destroying ancient relics they say promote idolatry that violates their fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law. Authorities also believe they’ve sold others on the black market to fund their atrocities.