A 17-year-old Assyrian Christian artist is resisting terrorism – with art.
For young sculptor Nenous Thabit, who is an Assyrian Christian, it was painful to watch Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) destroy the ancient city of Nimrud about two years ago.
The site outside Mosul was the capital of an Assyrian realm that stretched from Egypt to parts of what is now Turkey and Iran.
It was filled with elaborate wall panels, intricate carvings and colossal statues.
Two years ago, militants swept through northern Iraq,and destroyed many ancient relics and sites which, to them, symbolised idol worship.
After standing up to the elements for 3,000 years, the ancient remains of Nimrud were also systematically destroyed by ISIS militants, who used electric drills, bulldozers and explosives to reduce a ziggurat – or terraced pyramid, sculptures and carvings to rubble and dust.
The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO has condemned the destruction at Nimrud as a war crime.
Thabit decided to do something about it, and began working on replicas of the ancient works using clay, CNN reported.
“They waged a war on art and culture, so I decided to fight them with art,” he told CNN.
Over the past year, Thabit has sculpted 18 Assyrian statues and one mural, the report said.
The destruction included three Lamassu sculptures – depicting a deity with the head of a man, the legs of an ox, the body of a lion and the wings of a vulture. Thabit can make a new one in about 15 days.
Thabit fled Mosul with his family and they are now living in an apartment in the Kurdish city of Irbil.
He was trained by his father, Thabit Michael, a professional sculptor.
While he has sculpted since he was seven, he only began taking his craft seriously after the ISIS assult on his culture.
Counter-terrorism forces breached ISIS defences in the east of Mosul two weeks ago but have faced resistance from the militants who have deployed suicide car bombs, snipers and waves of counter-attacks.
Mosul is the largest city under the militants’ control in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.