Footage shows destruction in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra
Karolyn Coorsh, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, March 29, 2016 12:30PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 29, 2016 12:38PM EDT
The extent of the destruction of Palmyra in Syria has been captured on video after Syrian forces seized control of the ancient city from Islamic State militants earlier this week.
The images were posted by Syrian state-run media group SANA on Monday, one day after the country’s forces recaptured the historic site from the Islamic State.
The video shows show some destruction in the empty streets of Palmyra, including blown-out buildings and littered roads. In one portion of the video, smoke can be seen rising in the distance.
Located in central Syria, Palmyra is a UNESCO world heritage site, and features 2,000-year-old Roman-era colonnades and other artifacts. Prior to Syria’s civil war, the city was a tourist attraction that drew tens of thousands of visitors annually.
The Islamic State seized Palmyra last May, prompting concerns that priceless monuments would be destroyed by the extremist group. However, it was not clear whether the ancient ruins were destroyed by the Islamic State.
As they seized control of the historic city, the Islamic State claimed it had destroyed Palmyra artifacts, and the group circulated propaganda videos that purported to show the destruction of Palymra sites. Satellite images also showed damage to Palmyra and other Syrian cultural sites.
Initial reports suggested the damage in the heritage site was not as bad as initially thought. However, reports from the area confirmed that the Roman triumphal arch is among the priceless monuments that have been destroyed.
The Antiquities Ministry has said it will restore the site.
Rex Brynen, a political science professor at McGill University in Montreal, said regaining control of Palmyra is a “significant victory” for Syrian forces.
“It’s a major gain for the Syrians, although the Syrians shouldn’t probably have lost it in the first place,” Brynen told CTV News Channel on Monday.
He pointed out that ISIS both destroyed and looted parts of the town, and executed the head of antiquities in Palmyra.
“It’s an important victory, but the archaeological component is clearly not the only component,” Brynen said.