Historic Syrian City of Palmyra Falls to Islamic State
After a weeklong siege, the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra has fallen under the control of Islamic State. The UNESCO world heritage site, home to some of the world’s most magnificent ruins, is now facing near-certain destruction by the terrorist group.
From The Guardian:
Activists from the city and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said most of Palmyra fell on Wednesday shortly after the Assad regime evacuated most of its civilians and began withdrawing towards regime strongholds in the west.
“The Islamic State organization has now established almost complete control over the area from Palmyra to the Syrian-Iraqi border and onwards to the Syrian-Jordanian frontier,” said SOHR’s director, Rami Abdul Rahman.
Isis considers the preservation of such historical ruins a form of idolatry and has destroyed temples and historic artefacts, as well as ancient Assyrian sites in Nineveh in Iraq, after conquering the province in a lightning offensive last year.
The group has profited from looting historic treasures, in addition to scoring propaganda victories by the wanton destruction of archaeological sites, and Palmyra is likely to face a similar fate now.
Experts say the [Islamic State] group benefits from its destruction of cultural heritage because it shows the militants can act with impunity and exposes the impotence of the international community in the face of the provocations.
UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova said she was “deeply concerned” by the situation. “The fighting is putting at risk one of the most significant sites in the Middle East, and its civilian population,” she said in a written statement.
–Posted by Roisin Davis
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