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IS blows up tower tombs at Syria's Palmyra: Reports

The new destruction follows the demolition of the ancient shrine of Baal Shamin and the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel
An undated image, which appears to be a screenshot from a video taken by IS allegedly shows smoke billowing from the Baal Shamin temple (AFP)

The Islamic State group has blown up three of the famed tower tombs of Syria's ancient desert city of Palmyra, antiquities department chief Maamoun Abdelkarim told AFP on Friday.

"They blew up three tower tombs, the best preserved and most beautiful," he said.

He also confirmed to Reuters that the tower of Elahbel, built in 103 AD, which was four stories high and had an underground floor, had been levelled by the militants who took control of the city in May. 

The new destruction at the world-renowned and UNESCO World Heritage site, follows their demolition of the ancient shrine of Baal Shamin and the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel.

IS also beheaded the site's lead archaeologist, 82-year-old Khaled Asaad, who had lived at Palmyra for more than 50 years, after he reportedly refused to cooperate with the militants. 

The group considers the buildings sacrilegious.

 

This combination of handout pictures provided on 31 August by UNITAR-UNOSAT shows close-ups of satellite-acquired images with the Temple of Bel (AFP)