The Guardian reports: Islamic State has released new footage depicting unscathed ruins in the Syrian city of Palmyra, and activists say the group has promised to spare much of the ancient site and only destroy statues deemed polytheistic – raising hopes that some of the most magnificent surviving ruins of antiquity may remain intact.
But the human toll of the conflict increased as president Bashar al-Assad’s air force responded to the loss of Palmyra with an unforgiving air campaign that killed more than a dozen civilians on Monday and appears to have triggered a fresh humanitarian crisis in the area.
The air strikes came after the regime abandoned Palmyra and most of its civilians with Isis at the city gates, after initially saying it had evacuated non-combatants.
Activists and a monitoring group said Isis had used the majestic Roman theatre in Palmyra to execute nearly two dozen pro-Assad foreign fighters on Wednesday. The group held nearly 600 prisoners that Isis said fought alongside the regime. More than 200 people have been killed since the Isis offensive in the area began in mid-May. [Continue reading…]