The Islamic State in Syria, ISIS, destroyed the famous Arc of Triumph of Palyra on Sunday, October 4, according to the Syrian chief of antiquities, Mamoum Abdelkarim.
The Islamic State rigged the area with explosives several weeks ago. In August, the group distributed videos of their destruction of the temples of Bel and Baalshamin, jewels of the far Roman empire in the east, classified as a world heritage site.
The news of the destruction of the arch of triumph has not been distributed by ISIS.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), based in London and with a large network of informers throughout Syria, announced the destruction of the arch, without detailing the precise date it happened.
DESTROYED: The Lion of Al-lāt (first century AD), which stood at the entrance of the temple of Al-lāt.
Citing sources, SOHR reported that ISIS destroyed the arch "for reasons of the ornamentation on the columns," which they consider a form of idolotry based on their interpretation of the Koran. "It's a methodic destruction of the city. They want to raze it completely," said Mr. Abdelkarim. Since taking Palmyra when Syria's government troops fled on May 21, "it's been one shock after another," he said. "We know that ISIS has trapped other monuments. They want to destroy the ampitheater, the colonnade. We fear for the entire ancient city. The international community must find a way to save Palmyra," Mr. Abdelkarim implored.
Aerial view of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria.
Palmyra is an ancient city whose wealth from trade along the Silk Road to the Roman Empire allowed the construction of monumental structures. The city was destroyed by the Roman Emperor Aurelian in 273 AD when Palmyrenes adopted imperial titles. The city remained inhabited under different rulers but was destroyed again in 1400 by the Timurids, a Turk-Mongol tribe. Despite the destruction, the city remained a small village until the 20th century when the French moved the villagers into a nearby village so the city could be excavated.
DESTROYED: Interior of the Temple of Baalshamin.
DESTROYED: Main shrine of the Temple of Bel.
AT RISK: There are unconfirmed reports that ISIS plans to destroy the ampitheater in Palmyra. ISIS, below, has already used the location to execute prisoners.
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