Islamic State militants blow up ancient Arch of Triumph in Palmyra

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Islamic State Destroys Ancient Palmyra Arch

Islamic State militants have blown up the Arch of Triumph, a major monument in the 2,000-year-old Roman city of Palmyra, Syria's antiquities chief said on Sunday, after they destroyed two ancient temples at the central Syrian site in recent months.

Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters that sources in Palmyra had confirmed that the Arch of Triumph, a jewel in the exquisite collection of ruins in the oasis city, had been blown up.

Islamic State militants have blown up temples at the Roman-era UNESCO World Heritage site, which it has controlled since capturing Palmyra from Syrian government forces in May and mined other monuments and historic buildings. The group considers the buildings 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," Abdulkarim told Reuters.

See photos of ISIS' destruction:

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ISIS destroys temple of Baalshamin, Palmyra
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Islamic State militants blow up ancient Arch of Triumph in Palmyra
This undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 on a social media site used by Islamic State militants, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows smoke from the detonation of the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra. A resident of the city said the temple was destroyed on Sunday, a month after the group's militants booby-trapped it with explosives. Arabic at bottom reads, "The moment of detonation of the pagan Baalshamin temple in the city of Palmyra." (Islamic State social media account via AP)
This undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 on a social media site used by Islamic State militants, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows shows explosives in the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra. A resident of the city said the temple was destroyed on Sunday, a month after the group's militants booby-trapped it with explosives. The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO on Monday called the destruction of the temple a war crime. (Islamic State social media account via AP)
This undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 on a social media site used by Islamic State militants, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra rigged with explosives. A resident of the city said the temple was destroyed on Sunday, a month after the group's militants booby-trapped it with explosives. The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO on Monday called the destruction of the temple a war crime. (Islamic State social media account via AP)
This undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015 on a social media site used by Islamic State militants, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows the demolished 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra. A resident of the city said the temple was destroyed on Sunday, a month after the group's militants booby-trapped it with explosives. The U.N. cultural agency UNESCO on Monday called the destruction of the temple a war crime. (Islamic State social media account via AP)
FILE - This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. Islamic State militants beheaded 81-year-old Khaled al-Asaad, a leading Syrian antiquities scholar who spent most of his life looking after the ancient ruins of Palmyra, then hung his body from a pole in a main square of the historic town, Syrian activists and the scholar's relatives said Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2015. (SANA via AP, File)
FILE - This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. A Syrian official said Wednesday, June 24, 2015 that the Islamic State group has destroyed two mausoleums in the historic central town of Palmyra. (SANA via AP, File)
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"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 added.

In August, the Sunni Muslim militants blew up the temple of Baal Shamin, then the Temple of Bel, one of the best preserved Roman-era sites.

Earlier this month it was also confirmed the militants had destroyed some of the best preserved of Palmyra's funeral towers, sandstone constructions built to hold the remains of the ancient city's richest families.

Palmyra was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world, according to cultural agency UNESCO, which has described it as the crossroads of several civilizations.

Islamic State has declared a caliphate in territory it holds across Syria and Iraq and has destroyed other monuments it says are pagan and sacrilegious.

UNESCO has called such acts war crimes and says Islamic State seeks to wipe out evidence of Syria's diverse heritage.

Before the capture of the city, Syrian officials said they had moved hundreds of ancient statues to safe locations.

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