Beheading of Khaled al-Asaad, keeper of Palmyra, unites Syria in condemnation; ISIS blows up temple

The Guardian reports: Islamic State’s execution of Khaled al-Asaad, the keeper of Palmyra’s extraordinary cultural artefacts, has inspired a rare consensus among Syria’s other political factions.

The archaeologist and historian reportedly opposed the 2011 uprising against the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad, but his murder has provoked grief and condemnation from regime loyalists and opposition activists. [Continue reading…]

The New York Times reports: Militants from the Islamic State set off explosions at a temple in the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria, activists and government officials said on Sunday, continuing a pattern of destruction that they have visited upon historical sites across the territory they control there and in Iraq.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist and monitoring group based in Britain, said Sunday in a statement that Islamic State fighters detonated “a large quantity of explosives” that they had arranged around the Temple of Baalshamin, one of the most grand and well-preserved structures in the sprawling complex of ruins. A government official told reporters that it was heavily damaged by the blast.

The temple stood “dozens of meters” away from a Roman amphitheater where the Islamic State held a mass execution, killing 25 prisoners, in a video released last month, the activist group said. The entire ancient city of Palmyra is a Unesco World Heritage site. [Continue reading…]

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