Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) have destroyed one of Palmyra’s most well-known ancient temples, according to Syria’s antiquities chief.
Carefully stage-managed photographs by Isil show the moment the terrorist group destroyed the Temple of Baalshamin at the country’s ancient city.
The images, released by Isil’s media wing in the central province of Homs, revealed the temple was littered with explosives before it exploded into a mushroom cloud on Sunday.
The United Nations condemned the demolition as a “war crime”, coming days after Isil beheaded Palmyra’s elderly antiquities director.
The extremist group seized the Palmyra archaeological site and the modern town of the same name in May, raising fears of its imminent destruction.
It was understood to remain largely untouched as the extremists instead repurposed the ruins as a stage for their brutal executions.
But Maamoun Abdulkarim, the director-general of Syria’s antiquities ministry, said on Sunday that the Temple of Baalshamin had been destroyed in a large explosion.
“Daesh placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baal Shamin … and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple,” he said, using an Arabic acronym for Isil.
The UN cultural watchdog Unesco called the destruction of the temple a “war crime” and an “immense loss for the Syrian people and humanity”.
“The art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilisations, is a symbol of the complexity and wealth of the Syrian identity and history,” Irina Bokova, Unesco director general, said.
“Extremists seek to destroy this diversity and richness, and I call on the international community to stand united against this persistent cultural cleansing.”
Dedicated to a Babylonian storm god, the temple is thought to have dated back to the year 17AD. It became one of the most important landmarks inside a city which once sat at the heart of the third century Queen Zenobia’s empire.
“When, in due course, the killing stops, the blood dries, and the Syrian people attempt to refashion something out of the rubble to which their land has been reduced, they will need symbols,” wrote historian Tom Holland in a recent article.
“To mutilate a country’s past is to cripple its future.”
Take heed America. Britain. Sweden. Every western nation being invaded by hordes of