Northern Syria’s Palmyra’s Arch of Triumph has been obliterated by Islamic State militants.
Islamic State has had control over the ancient city since May, after they were successful in overthrowing the Syrian government troops. Since this time militants have been systematically blowing up ancient ruins, shrines and statues that they believe don’t tie in with their own radical ideologies of Islam. In August, the ancient Temple of Baalshamin, built about 2000 years ago, was destroyed by the militants and the destruction of the arch is the latest in a string of anarchist attacks throughout the country.
Palmyra, described by UNESCO (The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) as being one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world, is now “doomed” according to the Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim. “It’s as though there is a curse that has befallen this city and I expect only news that will shock us. If the city remains in their hands the city is doomed. It is now wanton destruction and their acts of vengeance are no longer ideologically driven because they are now blowing up buildings with no religious meaning.”
Irina Bokova, the UNESCO’s director general has said the destruction constitutes a “war crime” and called on the international community to stand united against IS efforts to “deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history. This destruction is a new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity. Islamic State is killing people and destroying sites, but cannot silence history and will ultimately fail to erase this great culture from the memory of the world.”