MOSCOW / AP
Russia released drone footage on Monday showing new destruction in Syria’s historic town of Palmyra, which was recently recaptured by the IS group, and warned that the militants could be planning the further demolition of antiquities.
The Russian Defense Ministry says Syrian government forces are advancing toward the town as another battle for the ancient site looms.
The video showed that the militants have badly damaged the facade of the Roman-era amphitheater and the Tetrapylon â€” a set of four monuments with four columns each at the center of the colonnaded road leading to the theater. The video appears to show that only two of the 16 columns remain standing.
IS militants have destroyed ancient sites across their self-styled caliphate in Syria and Iraq, perceiving them as monuments to idolatry.
Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site that once linked Persia, India and China with the Roman Empire and the Mediterranean, has already seen destruction at the hands of the IS group.
The ancient town first fell to IS militants in May 2015, when they held it for 10 months. During that time, the extremists destroyed ancient temples and eventually emptied the town of most of its residents, causing an international outcry.
The extremists were eventually driven out by Russian and Syrian government forces, but they seized the town again in December.
Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Syrian government troops advancing towards the city are about 20 kilometers (12 miles) away. It said Russian warplanes last week carried out more than 90 sorties to provide air cover for the
It added that some 200 IS fighters have been killed and that Syrian forces destroyed 180 “infrastructure objects” and 15 ammunition depots.