Islamic State destroys architectural jewel in historic city of Palmyra

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Bernard Gagnon/Wikipedia
The Temple of Bel, before it was destroyed.

THE United Nations has confirmed that the main temple in the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria, considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, has been destroyed.

The UN body that monitors satellite imagery of the Earth says images show, following reports of an explosion at the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel, that almost nothing of the historic jewel remains.

Palmyra, in the desert north-east of Damascus, is in the hands of Islamic State (IS).

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Einar Bjorgo, the manager of Unosat, told the BBC on Tuesday morning (September 1): “Unfortunately, the images we acquired do show that the main building of the temple has been destroyed.”

The Greco-Roman ruins of the city, which was once one of the greatest cultural centres of the ancient world, are a Unesco World Heritage Site. Before the outbreak of the conflict in Syria it received more than 150,000 tourists each year. The Temple of Bel, built in the first century AD, was considered the best-preserved example of the city’s unique architecture.

In August, IS killed Khaled al-Assad, the 81-year-old archaeologist who had been in charge of the care of the ruins of Palmyra.

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