ISIS destroys part of ancient Roman theater in Palmyra

Militants destroyed the facade of the second-century theater along with a cubic-shaped ancient Roman monument

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ISIS militants destroyed a landmark ancient Roman monument and parts of the theater in Syria’s historic town of Palmyra, the government and opposition monitoring groups said Friday.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, the head of Syria’s antiquities department, said the militants destroyed the facade of the second-century theater along with the Tetrapylon, a cubic-shaped ancient Roman monument that sits in the middle of the colonnade road that leads to the theater.

Also read: ISIS re-enters Palmyra as Russia strikes intensify

Abdulkarim told The Associated Press that reports of the destruction first trickled out of the ISIS-held town late in December. But satellite images of the damage were only available late Thursday, confirming the destruction.

The imagery, provided by the US-based American Schools of Oriental Research, show significant damage to the Tetrapylon and the theater. The ASOR said the damage is likely caused by intentional destruction from IS but they were unable to verify the exact cause.

Also read: Syrian regime troops looting Palmyra: German expert

Abdulkarim said only two of the 16 columns of the Tetrapylon remain standing. The stage backdrop has sustained damage, according to ASOR. State-run news agency SANA reported the damage Friday and Syrian opposition monitors also confirmed but gave no immediate details.

The militants also blew up the Arch of Triumph, which had been built under Roman emperor Septimius Severus between A.D. 193 and A.D. 211. A UNESCO world heritage site, Palmyra boasts 2,000-year-old towering Roman-era colonnades and priceless artifacts. Syrians affectionately refer to it as the “Bride of the Desert.”

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