ISIS destroys mausoleums in Syria’s Palmyra

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) destroyed two ancient Muslim mausoleums in the historic Syrian city of Palmyra. (File photo: AFP)

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) destroyed two ancient Muslim mausoleums in the historic Syrian city of Palmyra, the country’s antiquities director said Tuesday, according to Agence France-Presse.

Maamoun Abdulkarim said ISIS militants blew up the tombs of Mohammed bin Ali, a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed’s cousin, and Nizar Abu Bahaaeddine, a religious figure from Palmyra, three days ago.

Bin Ali’s burial place is located in a mountainous region four kilometers (almost three miles) north of Palmyra, in central Syria.

Abu Bahaaeddine’s tomb, nestled in a leafy oasis about 500 metres (yards) from Palmyra’s ancient ruins, is said to be more than five centuries old.

“They consider these Islamic mausoleums to be against their beliefs, and they ban all visits to these sites,” Abulkarim said.

Ten days ago, fighters from the extremist group also destroyed a number of tombstones at a cemetery for Palmyra residents, Abulkarim told AFP.

“All tombs with marble designs were destroyed. For them, graves should not be visible,” he said.

ISIS has destroyed at least 50 mausoleums dating between 100-200 years old in the regions under its control in north and east Syria, the antiquities director said.

Meanwhile photos published by ISIS depicted two armed men carrying canisters, apparently filled with explosives, walking up the rocky hill to the site.

The extremist group captured Palmyra, a renowned UNESCO World Heritage site, from pro-government forces on May 21.

At the weekend, ISIS fighters mined the city’s ancient site, renewing fears that they would demolish the famed ruins as they have other historic sites in Iraq.

Syria’s army has advanced in recent days west of the city, near key oil and gas fields.

[With AFP]