The Islamic State group has demolished more treasured monuments in Syria’s ancient Palmyra, a month after recapturing it from government forces, the country’s antiquities chief said on Friday.
The news is a fresh blow for the UNESCO World Heritage site, which had already been ravaged by the jihadist group during the nine months it held the site before being expelled in March last year.
“Local sources told us that 10 days ago, Daesh destroyed the tetrapylon,” a 16-columned structure that marked one end of the ancient city’s colonnade, Maamoun Abdulkarim said, using an Arabic acronym for the terror outfit. “Yesterday [Thursday], we received satellite photographs from our colleagues at Boston University showing damage to the façade of the Roman amphitheatre,” he added.
Before being forced out of Palmyra in a Russian-backed offensive in March, the IS razed world-famous temples and tower tombs at the site.
The tetrapylon, built during the rule of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 3rd Century AD, consisted of four sets of four pillars each supporting massive stone cornices. The monument had suffered considerable damage over the centuries and only one of the 16 pillars was still standing in its original Egyptian pink granite. The rest were cement replicas erected by the antiquities department in 1963.
Used for public executions
The Roman amphitheatre dates to the 1st Century AD and was used by the IS for public executions during its occupation of the city between May 2015 and March last year.
The IS recaptured Palmyra late last year as Syria’s government waged a fierce battle to take back all of the northern city of Aleppo from rebel forces. — AFP