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ISIL claims it has taken ancient Syrian city of Palmyra

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By Keith Walker
ISIL claims it has taken ancient Syrian city of Palmyra

The group calling itself Islamic State (ISIL) says it has taken full control of the historic Syrian city of Palmyra including its military bases.

It is the first time ISIL has taken a city directly from from forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his army.

Now there are fears ISIL may destroy Palmyra’s Roman ruins and temples. The group caused uproar over its destruction of ancient sites and relics in Iraq.

Palmyra’s 2,000-year-old monuments were put on UNESCO’s World Heritage in danger list in 2013.

The EU’s foreign policy chief has expressed fears that thousands of people living in the city are now at risk as well as the cultural sites.

“Mass killings and deliberate destruction of archaeological and cultural heritage in Syria and Iraq amount to a war crime,” Federica Mogherini said in a statement.

The city is a strategic win for ISIL because it’s located on a highway linking government-held Damascus and Homs with the country’s mainly rebel-held east.

British-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says ISIL now controls more than half of Syrian territory.

Although the group has seized huge tracts of land in Syria, the areas it holds are mostly sparsely populated.