21 Jun 2015

Islamic State ‘plants mines’ at ancient Palmyra

The self-proclaimed Islamic State group is reported to have planted mines and bombs in the ancient city of Palmyra world heritage site – home to some of the world’s best preserved ancient Roman ruins.

The jihadist group took control of Palmyra, including the ruins, in May. At the time it released footage of the ancient city and said it would “not damage the city’s antiquities, but will destroy the idols”.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Sunday that it was not immediately clear whether the group was preparing to destroy the ancient ruins or planted mines to deter government forces from advancing towards the city.

“They have planted it yesterday. They also planted some around the Roman theatre, we still do not know the real reason,” Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the Observatory, told Reuters.

On Saturday the Islamic State group’s media wing released footage (above) of homes in the modern city of Palmyra that it said had been hit by Syrian regime airstrikes.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s head of antiquities, said the report of Islamic State planting bombs in Palmyra “seems true”.

“The city is a hostage in their hands, the situation is dangerous,” he said.