'Darkest Predictions Taking Place' in Ancient City
ISIS blows up 'extremely important' Palmyra temple
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2015 1:49 AM CDT
A general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria, before ISIS seized the city.   (SANA via AP, File)
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(Newser) – When ISIS first seized the ancient city of Palmyra in May, the group's conduct at first seemed oddly restrained—but now there's death and destruction as usual. In the latest outrage, the militants blew up the 2,000-year-old temple of Baal Shamin, a Roman-era site that, like Christian and even Muslim shrines, the group considers idolatrous, reports Al Jazeera. The blast follows the destruction of tombs in the city and, last week, the public beheading of the elderly scholar who had been in charge of the city's world-famous ruins for half a century.

"Our darkest predictions are unfortunately taking place," Syria's chief of antiquities tells AFP. He says that, as with other ancient sites in territory under its control, ISIS mined the temple with a large quantity of explosives before blowing it up, causing immense damage. BBC arts correspondent Vincent Dowd says the temple, which was dedicated to the Phoenician god of rain and storms, was an "extremely important" site and had been "almost totally intact" before ISIS arrived. (The militants have used Palmyra's ancient amphitheater for mass executions.)