ISIS publishes images of Palmyra destruction

ISIS photo shows 2,000-year-old ruins of Baalshamin in Syria’s ancient caravan city of Palmyra rigged with explosives

BEIRUT: ISIS militants published photos on Tuesday purporting to show the destruction of a Roman-era temple in the central Syrian city of Palmyra, an act the UN cultural agency UNESCO has called a war crime.

Five photos were distributed on social media showing explosives being carried inside, being set around the walls of the temple, the large explosion and then rubble.

The militants blew up the temple of Baal Shamin on Sunday, according to the Syrian antiquities chief, but had not published visuals until now. Reuters could not independently verify the images.

Temple was a major tourist attraction before West backed rebellion broke out

The temple was built nearly 2,000 years ago and UNESCO has described it as a symbol of Syria’s historical cultural diversity, which it says Islamic State is seeking to obliterate.

The destruction of the Baalshamin erased a symbol of the once rich religious life of Syria’s ancient caravan city of Palmyra and left residents, archaeologists and historians fearful that the extremists will destroy more of the rich site, including an even larger more ancient temple nearby.

Amr Al-Azm, a former Syrian government antiquities official and now a professor in Shawnee State University in Ohio, said Baalshamin is the most significant site destroyed by the group inside Syria.

IS has used the ancient city has cover to avoid airstrikes from the international coalition against its locations, he said. It also used its Roman amphitheater as a stage when it killed 20 captured Syrian soldiers.

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