The Da’esh (ISIS) terror group has blown up another priceless archaeological treasure in its quest for the world’s attention.
According to Syrian chief of antiquities Ma’amoun Abdulkarim, the Arch of Triumph at the 2,000-year-old city of Palmyra was destroyed on Sunday, local witnesses attested.
The group had already blown up two temples at the Roman-era UNESCO World Heritage site, which it captured from Syrian government forces this past May.
Other monuments and historic buildings at the ancient site, which the group considers to be sacrilegious, have been mined.
“It’s as though there is a curse that has befallen this city,” Abdulkarim told Reuters. “I expect only news that will shock us. If the city remains in their hands the city is doomed.”
But he added that he does not believe the destruction is driven by idealism alone at this point.
“It is now wanton destruction … their acts of vengeance are no longer ideologically driven because they are now blowing up buildings with no religious meaning,” he said.
In August, the terrorists blew up two pagan temples – the temple of Ba’alshamin, and then the Temple of Bel – one of the best preserved Roman-era sites.
Earlier this month it was confirmed that Da’esh had demolished some of the best preserved of Palmyra’s funeral towers. These were sandstone mausoleums built to hold the remains of the ancient city’s richest families.
UNESCO — the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — describes the Arch of Triumph that graced the colonade entryway to Palmyra as “an outstanding example of Palmyrene art.”
An outraged UNESCO director-general Irina Bokova called the destruction of Palmyra’s architectural gems by Da’esh, “a war crime.”
In August, the terrorists beheaded venerated chief archaeologist of the ancient city, 82-year-old Khaled Asa’ad, after interrogating him for more than a month.
Asa’ad was executed in a main square of the historic site. His body was then hung from one of the 2,000 year old columns, his family said.Hana Levi Julian