Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova has reacted angrily to the Islamic State’s destruction of ancient sites in Syria.
On Monday, the Islamic State (in Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL or ISIS) released screenshots captured from video footage which first showed its fighters setting up explosives at the Temple of Baal Shamin in the World Heritage site Palmyra.
The screenshots also showed the explosion at the site and finally the temple itself in rubble and ruin.
The screenshots confirm reports last week by Syria’s antiquities head Maamoun Abdul Karim that the Islamic State had blown up a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The temple, which was later converted into a church, was initially build to the god of Canaan Baalshamin in the second century BCE.
“The systematic destruction of cultural symbols embodying Syrian cultural diversity reveals the true intent of such attacks, which is to deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history,” Bokova said in a UN press release.
She said that extremists cannot silence history as she also condemned the brutal murder of renowned Syrian archaeologist Khaled Al Assaad who had been kidnapped by Islamic State fighters after they seized Palmyra.
Pictures of his tied-up corpse, his head lying at his feet, circulated on social media networks.
In late May, the Islamic State beheaded a number of captured Syrian soldiers at the site.
Its fighters have since the capture of Mosul in Northern Iraq embarked on a systematic campaign of destroying ancient sites, including tombs of Muslim and Christian saints, in both Iraq and Syria.
The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies