Islamic State Militants Blow Up Palmyra's 'Arch of Triumph'

Islamic State blows up Arch of Triumph
A view shows the Arch of Triumph in the historical city of Palmyra, Syria, August 5, 2010. Sandra Auger/Reuters

A 2,000-year-old monument in the ancient Roman city of Palmyra in Syria was "pulverised" by Islamic State (ISIS) militants who control the city, according to Reuters.

Syria's antiquities chief, Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters on Sunday that sources in Palmyra had confirmed that the monument, known as the Arch of Triumph, had been blown up.

ISIS militants captured the historic site—one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world according to UNESCO— from Syrian government troops in May.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that militants blew up the arch but left the nearby colonnades in place, due to symbols and inscriptions on the arches that the group deems sacrilegious.

"It's as though there is a curse that has befallen this city and I expect only news that will shock us. If the city remains in their hands the city is doomed," said Abdulkarim.

"It is now wanton destruction ... their acts of vengeance are no longer ideologically driven because they are now blowing up buildings with no religious meaning," he continued.

Mohammad Hassan al-Homsi, an activist from Palmyra also confirmed the news, telling AFP news agency: "The Arch of Triumph was pulverised. IS has destroyed it."

In August, the fundamentalist Sunni Muslim militants blew up the temple of Baal Shamin and the Temple of Bel, one of the best preserved sites in the city. Khaled al-Asaad, the archaeological director of a museum detailing Palmyra's antiquities, was beheaded and his body tied to a pole after he refused to co-operate with ISIS in the same month.

UNESCO's director general, Irina Bokova, said in August that the ongoing destruction of the city at the hands of the militant group constitutes a "war crime."