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Wholesale slaughter of Palmyra residents begins as Islamic State invades

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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
5/22/2015 (4 years ago)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)

People beheaded as new international fears of historical treasures being destroyed by ISIS

Shocking images have emerged of decapitated bodies strewn across blood-filled streets in Palmyra While the world worries that the Islamic State will destroy the cities many priceless historical treasures, the wholesale slaughter of Palmyra's citizens has begun.

Will this marble altar depicting the Goddess Allat with a lion from the Temple of Baal Shamin in Palmyra be destroyed by ISIS jihadists?

Will this marble altar depicting the Goddess Allat with a lion from the Temple of Baal Shamin in Palmyra be destroyed by ISIS jihadists?

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
5/22/2015 (4 years ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: Palmyra, Islamic State, World Heritage Site, civilian casualties


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ISIS has now seized full control of the historic settlement, putting the world heritage site and its priceless 2,000-year-old artifacts at risk of destruction.

Jihadis have also captured the city's military air base, intelligence headquarters, and its prison, where hundreds of inmates have reportedly been liberated.


The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), based in the United Kingdom says that ISIS now controls half of all territory in the war-torn country.


Pro-government forces have retreated after 100 fighters were slaughtered in violent clashes in just a few hours. It marks the first time ISIS has claimed a city directly from the Syrian army and allied forces. Anti-ISIS forces have already lost ground in the northwest and south to other insurgent groups in recent weeks. 


An activist in Homs province, Beibares Tellawi says that the militants had reached Tadmur prison, where thousands of Syrian dissidents have been imprisoned and tortured over the years.

The fate of the prisoners was not immediately known, although pro-ISIS Twitter accounts shared a image claiming to show inmates celebrating with militants after being set free.


Islamic State agents have also seized control of the Jazl oil field in the Homs countryside.

In response, government war planes carried out air strikes on ISIS positions in the city. 


The head of SOHR, Rami Abdulrahman, who bases his information on a network of sources on the ground, said there were so far no reports of destruction of the city's historic artifacts.

Palmyra is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site, including ancient temples and colonnaded streets, which previously attracted thousands of tourists. 

Syria's antiquities chief, Mamoun Abdulkarim warns that the insurgents would destroy ancient ruins if they took control of it.

He said the group was in control of a hospital in the city which Syrian forces had used as a base before withdrawing. 


"The situation is very bad," he said after ISIS captured a northern section of the city earlier in the day. "If only five members of ISIS go into the ancient buildings, they'll destroy everything," he added, calling for international action to save the city. 

Syrian state TV reported that pro-government forces had managed to secure safe exit for most of the civilian population.

The jihadists sparked international outrage this year when they blew up the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud and smashed artifacts in the museum of Mosul, both in Iraq.

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