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Palmyra's sites could disappear within 3-4 months, says antiquities director


Syria

Palmyra's sites could disappear within 3-4 months, says antiquities director

It had withstood two millenia, but the Arch of Triumph appears to be the latest victim of ISIL militants in their campaign to raze the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra to the ground.

The country’s antiquities chief reported the so-called Islamic State group had blown up the monument and warned that the treasured heritage site could disappear completely within 3-4 months.

Known as the ‘Pearl of the Desert’, Palmyra lies 210kms northeast of Damascus, and has already seen two ancient temples razed in recent months.

Satellite images taken in August show the extent of the damage at the Roman-era UNESCO world heritage site, which was captured by ISIL militants in May. UNESCO has referred to the destruction of monuments as a ‘war crime’.

According to experts, the systematic destruction of heritage sites is used as a publicity tool to attract new recruits, and is also an important source of funding as ancient artefacts are sold on the black market.

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