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UN satellite images prove Palmyra temple was blown up

The 2,000-year-old temple was part of the remains of the ancient caravan city in central Syria.

Updated 8am

THE MOST FAMED temple in Syria’s Palmyra has been blown up, the United Nations has confirmed, showing satellite images of the damage as the Islamic State group presses a campaign to tear down the treasured heritage site.

im1 After the blast Source: UN

im2 Before Source: UN

A powerful blast in the ancient city had raised fears the militant jihadists had escalated their push to rid Syria of what they view as un-Islamic artifacts after they destroyed the smaller Baal Shamin temple last week.

“We can confirm destruction of the main building of the Temple of Bel as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity,” the UN training and research agency UNITAR said, providing satellite images from before and after the explosion on Sunday.

The 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel was the centrepiece of Palmyra’s famed ruins and one of the most important relics of the heritage site, which has been described by the UN’s cultural arm UNESCO as of “outstanding universal value”.

shutterstock_129503897 The Temple of Bel. Source: Shutterstock/Anton_Ivanov

IS fighters seized the city from Syrian regime forces in May and have since attacked the city’s ruins and historic sites, which they consider idolatrous, and in mid-August beheaded the 82-year-old former antiquities chief in Palmyra.

The Sunni Muslim group has also been accused of destroying heritage sites to loot items to sell on the black market and to gain publicity for their campaign to bring vast swathes of Iraq and Syria under their own harsh interpretation of Islam.

© AFP, 2015

Read: Police in Turkey say VICE journalists ‘suspected of helping Isis’>

Read: Islamic State releases photos of how it blew up historic temple>

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