Iraqi government forces say they have captured Nimrud, the site of an ancient Assyrian city overrun by Islamic State (IS) group militants two years ago.
In March 2015, officials and historians condemned IS for the destruction of the archaeological site, which dates back to the 13th Century BC.
The UN’s cultural body described the act as a war crime.
IS says shrines and statues are “false idols” that have to be smashed.
Nimrud lies about 30km (20 miles) south-east of the major city of Mosul, which Iraqi government forces are attempting to take from IS.
An Iraqi military statement said: “Troops from the Ninth Armoured Division liberated Nimrud town completely and raised the Iraqi flag above its buildings after inflicting loss of life and equipment on the so-called Islamic State.”
Meanwhile, human rights activists have accused Kurdish forces in Iraq of demolishing the houses of Sunni Arabs in at least 20 villages and towns in areas which had been under the control of IS.
According to Human Rights Watch, some Sunni Arab villages have been almost totally destroyed. It says this amounts to a pattern of apparently unlawful demolitions of houses and other buildings.
Buildings were marked with a X before being demolished by bulldozers, it says.
A deputy minister in the Kurdish regional government, Dindar Zebari, denied there were policies or instructions given to destroy Sunni Arab homes.
Instead, Mr Zebari told the BBC, the Kurdish region was a safe haven for almost two million Sunni Arabs.
He added that some villagers in the areas which had been destroyed had supported or become members of IS, and the damage to homes was either the result of air strikes or bombs placed in the villages as the militants retreated reports BBC.