ISIS Blows Up Temple in Syria's Ancient City of Palmyra

The bombing of the Baalshamin temple would be the first time Islamic State militants damaged monumental Roman-era ruins.

Suleiman Al-Khalidi
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This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria.
This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. Credit: AP
Suleiman Al-Khalidi

REUTERS - Islamic State militants on Sunday blew up the temple of Baalshamin, one of the most important sites in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, the country's antiquities chief, Maamoun Abdul Karim, said.

The temple bombing would be the first time the insurgents, who control swathes of Syria and Iraq and captured Palmyra in May, damaged monumental Roman-era ruins.

A week ago, the militants beheaded Khaled Asaad, an 82-year-old scholar who worked for over 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra, after detaining and interrogating him for over a month.

Before the city's capture by Islamic State, Syrian officials said they moved hundreds of ancient statues to safe locations out of concern they would be destroyed by the militants.

In June, Islamic State blew up two ancient shrines in Palmyra that were not part of its Roman-era structures but which the militants regarded as pagan and sacrilegious.

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