The ancient Baal Shamin temple in Palmyra, Syria, has reportedly been destroyed by the Islamic State group (ISIS) after they allegedly killed an archaeologist who refused to reveal the location of "treasures."
The United Nations satellite pictures have confirmed that the 2,000-year-old Baal Shamin temple has been destroyed by the militants, who experts fear may continue to destroy all of the ancient spectacles in Palmyra.
The temple was confirmed to be destroyed after a satellite image was taken on Aug. 27 and was compared to another taken on June 26, reported Daily Mail.
In the first image, a small rectangular structure can be seen, but in the next image there is nothing besides gray rubble, almost indistinguishable from the surrounding dessert.
(Above: June 26 satellite image, Below: Aug. 27 satellite image, via Daily Mail)
The temple was destroyed after the extremists allegedly laid explosives on Aug. 25.
The cultural agency Unesco has called the group’s actions a war crime meant to destroy a Syrian symbol of their diverse cultural heritage.
Since then, the group has target another ancient temple in Palmyra, the Temple of Bel, according to activists on social media and a group that monitors the Islamic State group’s conflict.
The damage to the Roman-era structure is not yet known, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Maamoun Abdulkarim, the Syrian antiquities chief, said the temple was “the most important temple in Syria and one of the most important in the whole Middle East,” reports CNN.
The Islamic State group took Palmyra from government forces in an unexpected offensive in May. The group strictly controls communications in the city, activists say.
Palmyra is a part of the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate, or government which is run by the person believed to be the successor of the prophet Muhammad. The caliphate is established in the territory the group holds across Syria and Iraq, reported the Guardian.
As part of a religious cleansing, the group has regularly demolished ancient monuments and structures. They have also carried out mass murders.
In August, Islamic State militants beheaded Khaled al-As’ad, the 82-year-old Syrian archaeologist who had preserved the antiquities of Palmyra for 40 years. They hung his body in public, according to Abdulkarim.