ISIS supporters post photos of the destruction of the temple
UNESCO says the destruction of the temple is "a new war crime"
ISIS seized the Palmyra ruins in Syria in May, prompting fears for the ancient site
Following the destruction of a nearly 2,000-year-old historic ruin in Syria – an act the United Nations cultural organization called a war crime – ISIS followed up with images of how it blasted the site.
ISIS supporters on Tuesday posted photos that show the destruction of the Baalshamin temple in Palmyra, Syria.
Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s director-general of antiquities and museums, said that sources in Palmyra informed him that ISIS members rigged the temple with large quantities of explosives and detonated them. The photos showing the destruction are real, he said.
The series of photos shows men rolling barrels of explosives into the temple and strapping them to columns, then a mushroom cloud with a final photo of a pile of rubble.
Captions on the photos claim that ISIS used IEDs, improvised explosive devices, to completely level the temple, which dates back to the first century.
The photos were posted on the usual Internet photo-sharing sites the group uses to distribute its propaganda.
“They destroyed an incredibly important architectural structure,” Abdulkarim said. “It is the first structure in the Palmyra complex to be destroyed, although they recently destroyed two Islamic shrines nearby.
“They said they would destroy the statues but not the structures themselves inside Palmyra,” he said. “They lied.”
Irina Bokova, the director-general of UNESCO, said in a statement that the destruction of the temple was “a new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity.”
News of the demolition of the temple comes less than a week after the observatory said ISIS militants had publicly beheaded Khaled al-As’ad, 82, the former general manager for antiquities and museums in Palmyra.
ISIS fighters seized control of Palmyra and the nearby modern town of Tadmur in May, prompting fears over what the militants would do to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The images fit ISIS’ pattern of producing propaganda aimed to shock viewers, particularly Western audiences.
CNN’s Ben Wedeman and Brian Walker contributed to this report.