ISIS blows up 2000-year-old triumphal arch in Syria’s Palmyra

The Arch of Triumph was one of the most recognisable sites in Palmyra, the central city affectionately known by Syrians as the ‘Bride of the Desert, ‘ which ISIS seized in May.

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Islamic State militants have blown up temples at the Roman-era UNESCO World Heritage site, which it has controlled since capturing Palmyra from Syrian government forces in May and mined other monuments and historic buildings.

Militants also recently blew up two famed First Century temples in Palmyra.

Other monuments in the city have reportedly been booby-trapped and local historians fear Islamic State will eventually raze all the ruins.

Islamic militants have blown up the Arch of Triumph, one of the jewels in the architectural crown of Roman-era buildings in Palmyra.

The militants beheaded the 82-year-old guardian of Palmyra’s ancient ruins in August. The Sunni extremists impose a violent interpretation of Islamic law across a self-declared “caliphate”, declaring such ancient relics promote idolatry and saying they are destroying them as part of their purge of paganism.

“We expect that the entire city of Palmyra will be destroyed”.

Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim also confirmed the news, and told Reuters news agency that if IS remains in control of Palmyra, “the city is doomed”.

Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world.

Before the capture of the city, Syrian officials said they had moved hundreds of ancient statues to safe locations.

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

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Unesco’s Director General Irina Bokova said the destruction constitutes a “war crime” and called on the worldwide community to stand united against IS efforts to “deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history”.

19 2010 shows the Arch of Triumph among the Roman ruins of Palmyra 220 kms northeast of the Syrian capital Damascus. AFP