The statues and monuments that Islamic State (Isis) jihadists were destroying, as seen in a video last month, have been claimed to be fake structures – a revelation that will bring relief to people in Iraq and the world over.
The jihadists had outraged many people worldwide when they filmed themselves vandalising ancient treasures and antiquities kept at a museum in Mosul. The country's national antiquities department has now confirmed that they were "plaster copies" of the priceless original structures.
"None of the artifacts destroyed in the video is an original," Fawzye al-Mahdi, head of Iraq's national antiquities department, told the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
In the video, the jihadists were seen attacking and destroying centuries old Iraqi artifacts, some of which are reported to be Assyrian antiquities dating back to 7th century BC.
The men in the video are seen breaking the monuments using sledgehammers and drills, saying the artifacts encouraged 'idol worship' which the extremists believe are prohibited in Islam.
An unidentified man in the video is heard saying: "The Prophet ordered us to get rid of statues and relics, and his companions did the same when they conquered countries after him."
The video even triggered reaction from the United Nations, with its Security Council condemning the "barbaric terrorist acts" of the dreaded group composed of hardliner Sunni militants.
It strongly condemned the "deliberate destruction of irreplaceable religious and cultural artifacts housed in the Mosul Museum and burning of thousands of books and rare manuscripts from the Mosul Library."
But it has now been confirmed that the destroyed artifacts were just replicas of the original, confirming suspicions voiced by many archaeologists who had said, after watching the video, that the statues may not have been original.
"You can see iron bars inside [the statues]," Mark Altaweel of the Institute of Archaeology at University College, London, told Channel 4 News, as quoted by The Telegraph.
"The originals don't have iron bars."
Atheel Nauafi, the governor of Mosul however, said that there were two original items that were destroyed.
"There were two items that were real and which the militants destroyed," he told Iraqi television. "One is a winged bull and the other was the God of Rozhan."