Homs – Sound and Picture

The city of Palmyra in the center of the Syrian desert is one of the most ancient cities in the world. Its name is written in the mud plates dated back to the eighteenth century BC. It is also the place of many ancient monuments which were popular destinations for tourists and experts from all over the world. However, the war in Syria reflected on the city before it finally reverted to the control of IS who destroyed so far many of its famous archaeological ruins.

Dozens of monuments write a long history of the city

Palmyra or “The desert pearl” is characterized of spreading its ruins over an area of ​​10 square kilometers. It is surrounded by a defensive wall of carved stones and another one of stone and mud. Palmyra was habituated by each of Amorites, Canaanites and Arameans.

Palmyra was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO among six other sites within Syria. The city also contains a great museum which ruins goes back to more than 30 centuries. Its temples Arsso, Baalchamin, along with the grand monumental colonnaded street, the Arc de Triumph, the Valley of graves and cemeteries tower and a lot others are considered of its most important landmarks.

Palmyra was a prominent tourism destination, as it has been visited by more than 150 thousand tourists a year. Its days of glory were during the reign of Queen Zenobia, in 270 AD, where Palmyra extended to include all the Levant and a part of Egypt.

Palmyra Prison has become one of its landmarks

On the other hand, this famous city was also featured to Syrian for its prison which bears its name. This prison was the most important detention of political opponents during the rule of the former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. In the early eighties, a violent incident claimed the lives of hundreds of prisoners after a failed assassination attempt against Hafez al-Assad. The sources say that the process carried out by units of the Syrian army, led by Rifaat al-Assad, the brother of Hafez al-Assad, led to the killing of nearly 1,200 political prisoners.

IS controls the city and destroys its monuments

In May of this year, IS dominated the ancient city and started destruction. IS destroyed the temple “Baalchamin” which was built about two thousand years ago in Roman times, and is the most important and most beautiful archaeological structure saved in Palmyra.

The General Director of the Syrian monuments, Maumoon Abdul Karim said: “IS used a large quantity of explosives to destroy Baalchamin temple which had been fully destroyed.”

After destroying ” Baalchamin “, IS also tried to destroy Baal temple by placing explosives in the perimeter of the temple, but Abdul Karim said that “the temple survived despite the attempt of IS of destroying it and the severe explosion that occurred inside and around the temple. However, its structure was not damaged”.

The professor Erin Thompson said: “The temple is very important in the world of ancient ruins, we lost a lot. This is one of the most temple that have been preserved from the ancient era.”

More over. IS destroyed a statue of a lion goes back to the second century AD, in addition to two Islamic mausoleum considering them to be “manifestations of polytheism.”

On the other hand, the extremist IS executed, in August, one of the most important scientific and cultural characters in Syria “Khalid al-Asaad”, the retired chief of antiquities of Palmyra, by beheading him and suspending his body on a pole in a public road in Palmyra.

The assassination of al-Asaad, who spent most of his life engaged in the excavations and restoration of Palmyra until his retirement in 2003, has raised frustration in the whole world. “UNESCO” condemned the killing of al-Asaad. Irina Bokova expressed her grief and anger about the “brutal murder” of Al-Asaad, and added that this new destruction reveals the extent of ” fear these extremists have of history and culture, and they show themselves for what they are as a model of hatred and ignorance,” adding that “there will be no tolerance with war criminals. all possible efforts will be made to bring those destroyers before the courts and have them punished in close cooperation of the International Criminal Court.

About The Author


Sound and Picture organization: We are a group of Syrian human rights activists. We noticed the lack of bodies which document abuses against civilians inside Syria, therefore we decided to establish this project, it is specialized to document the violations which have committed by all sides in the ongoing conflict in Syria against civilians in a professional way. The organization is documenting all kinds of violations, and working on the accounting for the groups which committed these violations by the international community. The organization is completely independent, and does not follow any political or military bodies, whether inside or outside Syria.

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