’Islamic State’ blow up ancient temple

Credit: Arian Zwegers

Satellite images have confirmed the destruction of the Temple of Bel, which was one of the best preserved Roman-era sites in the Syrian city of Palmyra, a UN agency said, after activists said the hardline Islamic State group had targeted it.

A comparison of before and after images reveals the damage inflicted on the temple at the Unesco World Heritage site, the Geneva-based United Nations Institute for Training and Research said.

“We can confirm the destruction of the main building of the Temple of Bel as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity,” the agency said in an email.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and other activists said on Sunday that Islamic State had destroyed part of the more than 2,000-year-old temple, one of Palmyra’s most important monuments.

This came a week after the militants blew up another smaller site in the central desert city.

Unesco has stressed the importance of Palmyra for its cultural heritage, describing it as the crossroads of several civilisations.

Information on events inside Palmyra has been patchy since the militants seized it in May. Activists say the fighters are closely monitoring communications inside the city.


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