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Syria: reports of ISIL advance on Palmyra raise fears for the ancient site

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By Euronews  with Reuters, EBU, AP
Syria: reports of ISIL advance on Palmyra raise fears for the ancient site

<p>An unverified video has emerged purporting to show <span class="caps">ISIL</span> militants raising the group’s flag over a government building in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. </p> <p>The country’s antiquities chief maintains the government is still in control of the municipality, but says fighting is ongoing two kilometres away from the world heritage site. </p> <p>Recent reports suggest <span class="caps">ISIL</span> has advanced from eastern strongholds to surround the central Syrian town.</p> <p>According to <span class="caps">UNESCO</span>, Palmyra dates back to the 1st century AD. The UN agency considers it one of the most important cultural sites in the Middle East. <span class="caps">ISIL</span> recently <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2015/02/27/isil-destruction-of-iraqi-antiquities-a-major-security-issue-says-unesco/">destroyed a number of antiquities</a> in northern Iraq. Fears are growing that Palmyra will suffer a similar fate.</p> <h3>Syria’s borders</h3> <p><strong>Lebanon</strong></p> <p>Lebanon’s <a href="http://www.euronews.com/2015/02/17/hezbollah-warns-isil-is-a-great-danger/">Shiite Hezbollah group</a> claims it and Syrian government forces have pushed fighters from <span class="caps">ISIL</span> and the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front out of a mountain range in Qalamoun, on the border the country shares with Syria. </p> <p><strong>Turkey</strong></p> <p>Officials in Turkey report the country’s air force has shot down a Syrian helicopter, which is said to have flown into Turkish air space.</p> <p>Syrian state media refute a helicopter was involved, claiming that it was actually a remote-controlled drone.</p>