ISIS Publishes Images of Palmyra Destruction

ISIS publishes images showing the destruction of the Baal Shamin temple in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra.

Ben Ariel ,

Ancient ruins in Palmyra
Ancient ruins in Palmyra

The Islamic State (ISIS) group on Tuesday published images showing the destruction of the Baal Shamin temple in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, AFP reported.

The series of images showed ISIS jihadists placing barrels and small containers, presumably containing explosives, into the temple, as well as similar containers placed on parts of its columns.

The images, which appeared to be screenshots from a video, also showed a large explosion apparently as the temple was blown up, and then a pile of rubble at its former location.

They were re-tweeted by Yannis Koutsomitis, a contributor to Al-Jazeera.

The temple was reportedly destroyed on Sunday and news of its demolition sparked international condemnation.

The head of the UN's cultural watchdog, Irina Bokova, called the act a "new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity."

Palmyra ancient ruins are a UNESCO World Heritage site and ISIS's capture of the town on May 21 raised concerns the group would lay waste to it as it has done with heritage sites under its control elsewhere.

In June, Islamic State blew up two ancient shrines in Palmyra that were not part of its Roman-era structures but which they regarded as pagan and sacrilegious. The group’s destruction of artifacts was also condemned by UNESCO in early July, and the organization described it at the time as an attempt to strip the people of their heritage in order "to enslave them".

The Sunni extremists, who have imposed a violent interpretation of Islamic law across their self-declared "caliphate" in territory they control in Syria and Iraq, claim ancient relics promote idolatry and say they are destroying them as part of their purge of paganism.

Last week, ISIS jihadists beheaded an antiquities scholar in Palmyra and hung his body on a column in a main square of the historic site.

The victim was Khaled Asaad, an 82-year-old who worked for over 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra.

The killing of the scholar is not the first one carried out by ISIS in Palmyra. In July, the group released a video showing 25 Syrian government soldiers being executed by teenagers in the ancient amphitheater  in the city.