ISIL shows images of ancient Syrian temple destruction
BEIRUT // ISIL militants published photos yesterday that purport to show the destruction of a Roman-era temple in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, an act the United Nations has called a war crime.
Five photos were distributed on social media showing explosives being carried inside the temple, being set around its walls, a 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 pictures before yesterday. The images could not be independently verified.
The temple was built nearly 2,000 years ago and the UN’s cultural agency Unesco has described it as a symbol of Syria’s historical cultural diversity, which it says ISIL is seeking to obliterate.
The destruction comes days after the group was said to have beheaded an 82-year-old Syrian archaeologist who had looked after Palmyra’s Unesco World Heritage ruins for four decades.
Syria’s antiquities chief said last week that ISIL had beheaded Khaled Al Asaad and hung his body in public.
ISIL seized the desert city of Palmyra from government forces in May but initially left its ancient sites undamaged.
It has carried out killings of people it accused of being government supporters in Palmyra’s ancient amphitheatre, according to activists.
Before the capture of the city – the site of some of the world’s most extensive and best-preserved Roman ruins – Syrian officials said they had moved hundreds of ancient statues to safe locations.
But they had voiced fears about the fate of large structures such as the temple. ISIL’s militants have a history of carrying out mass killings in places they capture and of demolishing monuments which they consider pagan and idolatrous.
Updated: August 25, 2015 04:00 AM