Ancient Roman temple in Syria completely destroyed: UN

Damascus, Sep 1 (IANS) Satellite images have confirmed that the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group has completely destroyed an ancient Roman temple in the Syrian city of Palmyra, the UN announced.

A powerful blast in the ruins of the ancient city on Sunday was believed to have been the result of IS targeting the Temple of Bel, although the extent of the damage at the Roman-era structure was not immediately clear.

But UN satellite analysts Unosat say the image shows almost no remains.

“Unfortunately, the images we acquired do show that the main building of the temple has been destroyed,” Einar Bjorgo, Unosat’s manager, told the BBC on Tuesday.

He added that a set of columns nearby had also been destroyed.

Local residents said that only the outer boundary wall and the gateway to the temple remained.

On Monday, Maamoun Abdul Karim, the head of the Syrian Department of Antiquities and Museums, had said the Temple of Bel suffered a large explosion, but that he believed most of the site had remained intact.

IS militants seized control of Palmyra in May, sparking fears for the World Heritage site.

Earlier this month the group murdered 81-year-old Khaled al-Asaad, the archaeologist who had looked after the Palmyra ruins for 40 years.

The world famous Greco-Roman ruins of Palmyra are in the desert north-east of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

The Temple of Bel is dedicated to the Palmyrene gods and was one of the best preserved parts of the ancient city.

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