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Satellite Images Confirm Partial Destruction of Famed Temple in Syria’s Palmyra: UN

(Al-Manar) ~ Satellite images confirm the destruction of another famed temple in Syria’s Palmyra, the United Nations said late Monday.

“We can confirm destruction of the main building of the Temple of Bel as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity”, the UN training and research agency UNITAR said, providing satellite images from before and after a powerful blast in the ruins of the ancient city Sunday.

The blast had already raised fears Monday that the Takfiri group, ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and Levant), had damaged another of the Middle East’s most treasured heritage sites.

UNITAR said its satellite program put to rest any doubts that the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel had been destroyed in the blast.

A shot taken on August 27 clearly shows an erect, rectangular structure surrounded by columns, while a shot taken on Monday showed there was little left besides a few columns in the very outer edges of the site.

ISIL already destroyed the smaller Baal Shamin temple at Palmyra last week, confirming the worst fears about their intentions for the site, which they seized from Syrian regime forces in May.

UNITAR on Friday also presented satellite images confirming the destruction of the Baal Shamin temple, which the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO called a “war crime”.

The Takfiris have carried out a sustained campaign of destruction against heritage sites in areas under their control in Syria and Iraq, and in mid-August beheaded the 82-year-old former antiquities chief in Palmyra.

Known as the “Pearl of the Desert”, Palmyra, which means City of Palms, lies 210 kilometers (130 miles) northeast of Damascus.
Before the Syrian conflict erupted 2011, more than 150,000 tourists visited Palmyra every year.

Before the arrival of Christianity in the second century, Palmyra worshipped the Semitic god Bel, along with the sun god Yarhibol and lunar god Aglibol.

Syria’s antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim described the Temple of Bel as Palmyra’s most important site, and also the most important temple in the Middle East along side Baalbek in Lebanon.

Construction of the temple began in 32 BC and ended in the second century, and it later served as both a church and a mosque.


DAESH demolishes large parts of the Temple of Bel in Palmyra

(SANA, Homs) ~ The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists destroyed large parts of the ancient Temple of Bel, dating back to 32 AD, in the UNESCO-listed archeological city of Palmyra at the central Homs province countryside.

Reliable local sources from inside Palmyra, which is under an ISIS siege since last May, told SANA reporter in Home that ISIS terrorists demolished on Sunday afternoon large parts of Temple of Bel.

The sources said ISIS booby-trapped the remaining parts of the Temple with massive quantities of explosives, warning that they could blow it up completely at any moment.

Over the past period ISIS has destroyed several ancient sites in Palmyra city, the latest was Temple of Baalshamin which was destroyed less than ten days ago.

It also beheaded a senior archeologist of Palmyra Khaled al-Asaad on August 19.

In early July, ISIS destroyed the 1,900-year-old “Lion of Al-Lat” statue in Palmyra.



Al-Manar from AFP
SANA, by H. Said
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