A nearly half-mile-long tunnel located 32 feet underground was discovered in Mosul by Iraqi Security Forces, and is believed to have been used by ISIS as a makeshift training center, according to reports. The tunnel, built inside the ruins of a former train system that ran between Mosul and Baghdad, was powered by generators and included a mosque, training center, and medical facilities.
The underground bunker also featured a myriad of obstacles, used for training new and existing ISIS recruits before being sent into battle in Mosul. The distinctive black flag of ISIS, as well as other pro-Islamic State graffiti, was found littering on the walls of the underground bunker. Iraqi Security Forces also uncovered a treasure trove of ancient historical Assyrian statues and murals, dating back thousands of years, seemingly uncovered by ISIS on accident, according to a report by CNN.
“The immediate solution is to have these artifacts and antiquities excavated, pulled from underneath the ground and moved to a secure place, like the Baghdad museum or Mosul Museum, when it gets secured in the future, when the security situation permits that,” says Faleh al-Shumari, head of the antiquities authority in Mosul.
Because of the constant barrage of bombs and air strikes in the area, the integrity of the tunnel is compromised and many do not believe that the existing artifacts will last for the duration of the battle.
While ISIS has generally destroyed historic monuments and artifacts in the past, in 2015 the FBI issued a statement saying to keep a watchful eye on antiquities flooding the black market, which may have been stolen by ISIS to fund the regime.
Iraqi response teams have cleared the entirety of the area of inhabitants and are continuing onward to finish the fight to regain control of Mosul.