A predictable fate has started to befall the historic Syrian city of Palmyra as ISIS fighters have now destroyed two ancient Muslim shrines in the ancient city, the Syrian government confirmed Wednesday.
The move marks the latest act of cultural vandalism by the Sunni extremist, this time against the UNESCO World Heritage Site which dates back 2,000 years.
Syria’s antiquities chief, Maamoun Abdulkarim, head of the Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums (DGAM), confirmed that the body became aware of the destruction four days ago, when reports started filtering in.
“ISIS has blown up two ancient Muslim shrines in Palmyra, and has published photos of this awful crime against the Syrian cultural heritage on Facebook,” a statement from the DGAM said.
Of the ruins destroyed, one is the tomb of Mohammed bin Ali, a descendant of Ali bin Abi Taleb, the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin. The DGAM said that it is located in a hilly area 2.5 miles north of Palmyra.
“ISIS militants also blew up the shrine of Shagaf, known as Abu Behaeddine, a religious figure from Palmyra, dated to 500 years ago. The shrine is located in the oasis 500 meters away from the Ancient City’s Arch of Triumph,” the statement went on to confirm.
Palmyra, commonly known as the “bride of the desert,” is an unparalelled collection of ruins in the desert northeast of Damascus. It was once a monumental city sitting on a vital trade route linking Persia, India and China with the Roman Empire.
The eclectic mix of architectural styles of its colonnades and temples is a testament to its importance as a caravan city at the crossroads of ancient civilizations.
Reports emerged, as we covered here, that ISIS militants had begun planting landmines and explosive in the city late last week, about the same time as the vandalism took place.