October 5, 2015
Damascus, SANA- The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorists blew up Sunday a nearly 2,000-year-old arch of Triumph in the besieged ancient city of Palmyra, a UNESCO world Heritage site, in the central Homs province.
The Arch of Triumph was one of the most recognizable sites in Palmyra “Bride of the Desert”, which the ISIS group seized in May, as it sat atop the famed colonnaded streets of the ancient city.
Director General of the Antiquities and Museums Directorate Maamoun Abdul-Karim confirmed in a statement to SANA ISIS’s new aggression, citing local sources in Palmyra city as saying that the ISIS terrorists booby trapped and blew up the Arch of Triumph which was destroyed completely.
This aggressive attack is one of a series of deliberate vandalism acts inflicted by ISIS on ruins and historical sites in Palmyra after it took over it last May, where they destroyed last September three ancient tower tombs that date back to different eras from 44 to 103 A.D, including the Tower of Elahbel, built in 103 AD and regarded as the finest example of this type of building, in addition to the Tower of Iamliku and the Tower of Kitot.
ISIS terrorists also destroyed last August large parts of the ancient Temple of Bel, dating back to 32 AD, and Temple of Baalshamin, while in early July, ISIS destroyed the 1,900-year-old “Lion of Al-Lat” statue in Palmyra.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) condemned the destruction of the Arch of Triumph in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a UNESCO world Heritage site.
“This new destruction shows how terrified by history and culture the extremists are, because understanding the past undermines and delegitimizes the pretexts they use to justify these crimes and exposes them as expressions of pure hatred and ignorance. Palmyra symbolizes everything that extremists abhor, cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, the encounter of different peoples in this center of trading between Europe and Asia,” UNESCO’s director-general, Irina Bokova said in a statement on Monday.
She said that UNESCO reaffirms its determination to protect all that can be saved by relentlessly fighting against the illicit trafficking of cultural objects, documenting heritage and establishing networks to link the thousands of experts in Syria and abroad working to transmit this heritage, notably with the help of modern technology.
The Arch of Triumph, built by Septimius Severus between 193 and 211 AD, is a symbol of the city, whose image has traveled around the world. A masterpiece of civil architecture and urban planning, the Arch was topped by geometric and floral ornaments. It marked the junction between the immense colonnades more than one kilometer in length and the Temple of Bel, also destroyed this year.
Reem/Barry/ Manar al-Frieh/Manal