ISIS plunders Palmyra

First, there was rare good news: this month, control of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was returned to the Syrian army from ISIS, which held it since May. This funerary relief once sealed a tomb at the site.

Then, a reckoning: Not only had the Islamic State destroyed much of the site’s monuments; it had also laid land mines around two nearly 2,000-year-old temples. Much of what it didn’t destroy, it plundered for blackmarket sale. Worse still was the human toll: the murder of Palmyra’s retired chief of antiquities. Troops are now working to clear the ancient city, known as “the bride of the desert,” of mines ISIS left behind.                 *—Diane Richard, writer, March 30 *Images: The destruction of the main building of the Temple of Baal was confirmed by this satellite image on Aug. 31, 2015. Top: Airbus DS via UNITAR-UNOSAT; bottom: UrtheCast via UNITAR-UNOSAT

Source: Sarah Almukhtar, “The Strategy Behind the Islamic State’s Destruction of Ancient Sites,” The New York Times, March 28, 2016