Damascus: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has blown up Palmyra’s ancient temple of Baalshamin that was primarily a Roman era artifact, built 2,000 years ago. While Syria’s head of antiquities said that the temple was blown up on Sunday, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that it happened one month ago. ISIS took control of Palmyra in May, sparking fears the group might demolish the Unesco World Heritage site.

A file picture taken on March 14, 2014 shows the courtyard of the sanctury of Baal Shamin in Palmyra.  After the attacks that took place on Sunday, the temple’s inner area was reportedly destroyed and the columns had collapsed.  Pic/AFP

End of an era?
The temple of Baal Shamin stood for nearly two millennia, honoring the Phoenician god of storms and rain.
Destruction of the site would be directly in line with the Islamic State’s campaign not just against people of other faiths, but against their culture. “Oh Muslims, these artifacts that are behind me were idols and gods worshipped by people who lived centuries ago instead of Allah,” one militant said of antiquities in Mosul, Iraq, earlier this year.

Doomed to dust
“Daesh placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baal Shamin and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple. The temple’s inner area was destroyed and the columns around collapsed,” Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s antiquities chief said.

Irina Bokova, the Unesco chief, said in a statement, “This destruction is a new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity. Daesh (Isis) is killing people and destroying sites, but cannot silence the history and will ultimately fail to erase this from the memory of the world.”