ISIS Executes Three in Palmyra by Blowing Up Ancient Columns

Is there no end to the atrocities of ISIS?

Ancient ruins of Palmyra
Photo via: Trek Earth

Islamic State has executed three people in Palmyra by tying them each to a historic column and then blowing them up. According AFP, ISIS members have not told local residents who the individuals were or the reasons why they were executed.

“There was no one there to see (the execution). The columns were destroyed and [ISIS] has prevented anyone from heading to the site,” Khaled al-Homsi, an activist working with the local Palmyra Coordination Committee activist group, told AFP.

Mohammad al-Ayed, who is also an activist from Palmyra, said that there are many columns still like the ones used in the execution left standing. “[ISIS] is doing this for the media attention, so that [ISIS] can say that it is the most villainous, and so it can get people’s attention,” al-Ayed told AFP.

ISIS justifies its continued destruction of ancient sites on the belief that any pre-Islamic artifacts are idolatrous and should therefore be destroyed.

Antiquities in Palmyra, Syria. Photo: courtesy UNESCO.

Antiquities in Palmyra, Syria.
Photo: Courtesy UNESCO.

The group have carried out many executions and killings in the ancient city Palmyra. These include the massacre of 25 Syrian soldiers in the grand amphitheater by child soldiers, and the public beheading of an 82-year-old antiquities expert who refused to reveal the whereabouts of hidden artifacts they intended to destroy, or sell.

Since occupying the city in May, ISIS has also razed several of Palmyra’s historic sites, including the ancient Baal Shamin Temple, the Temple of Bel, and the city’s Roman-era Arch of Triumph. The ruins of Palmyra are on a UNESCO World Heritage list and before the war in Syria started they were a huge tourist attraction, bringing 150,000 visitors a year.

The Ancient City of Palmyra Photo: via the Guardian

The Ancient City of Palmyra
Photo: via the Guardian

ISIS generates a sizable amount of revenue through the black market sale of looted artifacts, thus funding their “caliphate,” which preaches a highly extreme version of Islamic law.

ISIS have destroyed cultural sites in both Iraq and Syria leaving a trail of death and destruction behind them. The international outcry regarding the leveling of ancient sites with high cultural importance has lead the UN to deploy Blue Helmets or peacekeeping troops in an attempt to prevent further damage.

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