Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Somalia twin bombings kill 18 in Mogadishu

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Arming the "good guys"?

Read more

THE DEBATE

Gun Control in the United States: Will the Florida shooting be the turning point?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Giving a voice to the homeless in France

Read more

REPORTERS

'Never Again': The students pushing for US gun control

Read more

#TECH 24

A bright future for solar power

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Winter in France's Burgundy vineyards

Read more

FOCUS

How French cyber police are patrolling the 'Dark Web'

Read more

ENCORE!

Marseille mon amour: Mediterranean city celebrates love

Read more

Middle East

Islamic State group blow up 2,000-year-old Arch of Triumph in Syria's Palmyra

© AFP

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2015-10-05

Islamic State group extremists have blown up the famous Arch of Triumph in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, the country’s head of antiquities said on Monday, as the jihadists press their campaign to tear down the treasured heritage site.

The militants have carried out a sustained campaign of destruction against heritage sites in areas under their control in Syria and Iraq, and in mid-August beheaded Palmyra’s 82-year-old former antiquities chief.

Syrian antiquities director Maamun Abdulkarim warned of impending catastrophe in the UNESCO-listed world heritage site, which the jihadists have been dismantling since capturing the ruins in May.

“This is a systematic destruction of the city. They want to raze it completely,” Abdulkarim told AFP.

“They want to destroy the amphitheatre, the colonnade. We now fear for the entire city,” he added, calling on the international community to “find a way to save Palmyra”.

Known as the “Pearl of the Desert”, the ancient oasis town of Palmyra situated about 210 kilometres (130 miles) northeast of Damascus became famous as a stopping point for caravans travelling on the Silk Road.

Both the citadel and the ruins are on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and before the war around 150,000 tourists a year visited Palmyra.

Sunni extremist group IS has already destroyed the shrine of Baal Shamin and the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel, regarded as Palmyra’s masterpiece, as part of a campaign to destroy pre-Islamic monuments, tombs and statues it considers idolatrous.

Experts say the militants have used the destruction to raise their profile to attract new recruits, and are also funding their “caliphate” by selling artifacts on the black market.

Syria’s archaeology association, the APSA, says that more than 900 monuments and archeological sites have been looted, damaged or destroyed during the four-year civil war.

‘Catastrophe’

The Arch of Triumph, situated at the entrance of the ancient ruins’ historic colonnaded street, was an “icon of Palmyra,” Abdulkarim said, warning that IS fighters have already laid explosives in other monuments.

“We have received news from the site that the Arch of Triumph was destroyed yesterday (Sunday). IS booby-trapped it several weeks ago,” he told AFP.

“We are living through a catastrophe. Since the capture of the city (by IS), it has been one shock after another.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group and local activist Mohammad Hassan al-Homsi backed up the account, saying the arch had been ruined.

“The Arch of Triumph was pulverised. IS has destroyed it,” said Homsi.

Palmyra’s ancient citadel has also been damaged by heavy bombardment from barrel bombs dropped by Syrian government forces, according to experts and activists.

IS has taken advantage of the chaos in Syria caused by its four-year long civil war, which has killed more than 240,000 people and sent millions fleeing, to expand its influence in the country.

A year-long US-led air campaign has been unable to stop the militants, and Russia five days ago started its own strikes against what it said are targets belonging to IS and other jihadist groups.

Western powers have accused Russia of instead targeting moderate opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an important ally of Moscow.

(AFP)
 

Date created : 2015-10-05

  • SYRIA

    Dozens dead as Syrian jets pound IS group-held Palmyra for second day

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Islamic State group blows up three ancient tower tombs in Palmyra

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    IS group ‘beheads’ renowned Syrian archaeologist in Palmyra

    Read more

COMMENT(S)