Reports: ISIL blows up Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph – USA TODAY
The Islamic State group has blown up the Arch of Triumph in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, according to media reports.
Maamun Abdulkarim, the country’s head of antiquities, on Monday told Agence France-Presse he was told the “icon of Palmyra,” which stood at the entrance to the UNESCO world heritage site, was destroyed by the militants on Sunday.
He called on the international community to “find a way to save Palmyra,” which was a center for art and commerce in Roman times and warned that militants have laid explosives in other monuments.
Abdulkarim told AFP that the extremists, also known as ISIS or ISIL, “booby-trapped” the arch, which is thought to be around 2,000 years old, “several weeks ago.”
“We are living through a catastrophe. Since the capture of the city, it has been one shock after another,” he told the agency.
ISIL has embarked on a campaign to destroy monuments that pre-date Islam and artifacts they say promote idolatry since seizing Palmyra in May.
Last month, news emerged that they destroyed the city’s ancient tower tombs, which date from 100 A.D. In August, they beheaded archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad, a caretaker at the site and in July, militants released a video apparently showing a mass execution of soldiers within the ruins.
ISIL has also destroyed the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel â Palmyra’s main temple â the smaller Temple of Baal-Shamim, other ancient temples, modern day Islamic cemeteries and shrines.
“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.”
“Their acts of vengeance are no longer ideologically driven because they are now blowing up buildings with no religious meaning,” he told Reuters.
Before the civil war began in Syria in 2011, Palmyra’s ruins were a major attraction, bringing about 150,000 tourists a year to the city.