Damascus: Taking barbarism to new height every day, dreaded terror outfit Islamic State (ISIS) militants beheaded an antiquities scholar in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and hung his body on a column in a main square of the historic site, Syria’s antiquities chief said on Tuesday.
Isis, whose insurgents control swathes of Syria and Iraq, captured Palmyra in central Syria from government forces in May, but is not known to have damaged its monumental Roman-era ruins despite a reputation for destroying artefacts militants view as idolatrous under their puritanical interpretation of Islam.
Syrian state antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said the family of Khaled Asaad had informed him that the 82-year-old scholar who worked for over 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra was killed by Isis on Tuesday. Asaad had been detained and interrogated for over a month by the ultra-radical Sunni Muslim militants, Abdulkarim told Reuters.
Before the city’s capture by Isis, Syrian officials said they moved hundreds of ancient statues to safe locations out of concern they would be destroyed by the militants. In June, Isis did blow up two ancient shrines in Palmyra that were not part of its Roman-era structures but which the militants regarded as pagan and sacrilegious.