Monday, August 24, 2015
IS destroy Roman temple in Palmyra
The Temple of Baal Shahin before its destruction.
Islamic State militants on Sunday blew up the temple of Baal Shamin, one of the most important sites in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, said Maamoun Abdul Karim, the country's antiquities chief. The temple bombing would be the first time the insurgents, who control swathes of Syria and Iraq and captured Palmyra in May, damaged monumental Roman-era ruins.
A week ago, the militants beheaded Khaled Asaad, an 82-year-old scholar who worked for more than 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra, after detaining and interrogating him for over a month.
Before the city's capture by Islamic State, Syrian officials said they moved hundreds of ancient statues to safe locations out of concern that the militants would destroy them.
In June Islamic State blew up two ancient shrines in Palmyra that were not part of its Roman-era structures but which the militants regarded as pagan and sacrilegious.
The militants were also beginning excavation for gold and giving licenses for illicit excavation of the city's treasures, Abdul Karim added.
Islamic State also on 20 August demolished the ancient monastery of St Eliane in Qaryatain, in the central Syrian province of Homs.Qaryatain is near a road linking the ancient Roman city of Palmyra to the Qalamoun mountains, along the border with Lebanon.The group has also transferred several dozen Christians, captured during its offensive, to a location near its stronghold in northeastern Syria.