ISIS militants demolish ancient heritage sites in Syria after vowing to leave them unharmed

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Destruction of Baalshamin Temple (Courtesy Wikipedia)

Destruction of Baalshamin Temple d (Courtesy Wikipedia)

World heritage sites in the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria are being bombed by the militant group ISIS. The 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshamin and Temple of Bel in Palmyra, designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites, have allegedly been destroyed by the terrorist group. Images featuring the explosion posted through social-media accounts in affiliation with ISIS depict the bombings.

Temple of Baalshamin (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Temple of Baalshamin (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

The destruction of these ancient temples follows the public execution of Khaled al-Assad, age 82, a scholar and keeper of Palmyra and Syrian antiquities at the hands of ISIS militants on Tuesday, August 18.

According to an Associated Press report in the Los Angeles Times, a UNESCO official said the removal of these monuments is the “most brutal, systematic” destruction of historic sites since World War II. ISIS has also targeted other ancient sites including St. Elian Monastery and its 5th century tomb, the report added. UNESCO has called these demolitions war crimes.

The Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria is reportedly destroyed. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

The Temple of Bel, Palmyra, Syria is reportedly destroyed. (Courtesy Wikipedia)

In late August, the group struck again at the Temple of Bel. The Guardian reported on August 30 that the group made the claim over social media. The structure was built in 32 AD.

After gaining control of the city early March 2015, ISIS’ commander in Palmyra, Abu Laith al-Saoudy, was reported stating that it was the group’s intention to preserve and leave unharmed the historic city of Palmyra. “What we will do is break the idols that the infidels used to worship. The historic buildings will not be touched and we will not bring bulldozers to destroy them like some people think.”

Baalshamin Temple (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Baalshamin Temple (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

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