IS destroys 2nd temple

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IS destroys 2nd temple

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The satellite image provided by UNITAR-UNOSAT. [AP/NEWSIS]

DAMASCUS, Syria - A satellite image on Monday shows that the main building of the ancient Temple of Bel in the Syrian city of Palmyra has been destroyed, a United Nations agency said. The image was taken a day after a massive explosion near the 2,000-year-old temple in the city occupied by Islamic State (IS) militants.

Earlier, Maamoun Abdulkarim, the head of the Antiquities and Museums Department in Damascus, said there was conflicting information about the fate of the temple, one of the most prominent structures in a sprawling complex, because eyewitnesses were unable to approach the site.

But Einar Bjorgo, manager of Geneva-based United Nations satellite analysts Unosat, said a satellite image taken Monday “unfortunately shows the destruction of the temple’s main building as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity.’’ Unosat based its findings after comparing the image with one taken on Aug. 27, which showed the main building and columns still intact.

Bjorgo said the images were important so the United Nations cultural agency Unesco could have “objective information’’ about the situation in Palmyra.

The IS group, which captured Palmyra from forces loyal to President Bashar Assad in May, destroyed the smaller Temple of Baalshamin in the complex last week and posted images of the destruction days later. Unesco condemned the act as a war crime. AP
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