ISIS Destroys Roman-Era Arch of Triumph as Destruction of Palmyra Rages On

Syrian officials call for international intervention.

Iraqi soldiers in the ISIS-destroyed ruins of Nimrud, after the recapture of the ancient town on the outskirts of Mosul in November 2016. Photo courtesy Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images.

Islamic State’s ideology of systematic cultural destruction in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra rages on as the militants destroy the city’s Roman-era Arch of Triumph.

The historic monument was constructed to commemorate the Roman emperor’s visit to the city 2,000 years ago and was considered to be one of the jewels among the ancient ruins.

According to the Guardian, the country’s antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim confirmed the destruction on Sunday, condemning the militants as “barbarians.”

“It’s a crime in every sense of the word,” he told the British daily. “All we can do is share the sadness.” Abdulkarim added that the arch has no religious associations. However Islamic State’s radical interpretation of Islam views the preservation of ancient monuments as sacrilegious because they believe it promotes idolatry.

The militants have been systematically destroying the ancient Syrian city. Photo: European Space Imaging/Digital Globe via BBC

The militants have been systematically destroying the ancient Syrian city.
Photo: European Space Imaging/Digital Globe via BBC.

Since seizing Palmyra in May, Islamic State has already razed the city’s Temple of Bel and the Temple of Baalshamin, which were among the site’s best-preserved monuments. The terrorists also beheaded the city’s head of antiquities Khaled al-Assaad after he refused to reveal the hiding place of ancient artifacts.

“The systematic destruction of cultural symbols embodying Syrian cultural diversity reveals the true intent of such attacks, which is to deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history,” Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, said in a statement in August.

The Telegraph reported that Bokova called the destruction of the heritage-listed site a war crime and accused Islamic State of attempting to erase evidence of Syria’s history of cultural diversity.

Abdulkarim went on to call for international intervention to prevent further destruction of the city. “Liberating Palmyra is an immediate necessity. The international community must find a solution to liberate it.”


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