ISIS, UN satellites confirm destruction temple of Bel

Analysts, almost nothing left of building

01 September, 10:24

    (ANSAmed) - ROME/BEIRUT, SEPTEMBER 1 - The hope generated by an official denial that the temple of Bel in Palmyra had been blow up by ISIS lasted just a few hours with photo evidence provided by a UN agency confirming that the Syrian archaeological jewel has been destroyed.

    The confirmation of the crime against humanity comes amid reports that the jihadist organization of the Islamic State (ISIS) has been boosted on the Libyan coast after the arrival in Sirte of 200 Nigerian fighters from Boko Haram, allied in the bloody fundamentalist war.

    The destruction of the temple of Bel (or Baal, assimilated to the Greek Zeus) with 30 tons of explosives was announced on Sunday by local activists.

    Syrian antiquities chief Mamoun Abdelkarim has immediately denied the report, claiming that the temple dating back to the first century AD had been in part spared, notably the columns and sanctum.

    Last night, however, UN satellite analysts Unosat said images showed there was almost nothing left of the building, the BBC reports.

    ''Unfortunately, the images we acquired do show that the main building of the temple has been destroyed'', Einar Bjorgo, Unosat's manager, told the BBC early on Tuesday.

    He added that a set of columns nearby had also been torn down.

    Just a week ago another temple was destroyed in Palmyra, the sanctuary of Baalshamin. ISIS has targeted historical sites in areas under its control in Iraq and Syria, considering ancient temples and sculptures as heretical. Meanwhile the terror group is continuing to post images and videos online of its latest media feat: burning their imprisoned enemies alive. Video footage posted to internet profiles linked to the jihadist group shows four Iraqi Shiite militants, members of anti-ISIS paramilitary groups, burning alive as they hang in chains. The prisoners are wearing the usual orange suits previously used by ISIS for its victims in Syria, Iraq and Libya.

    A report, not confirmed by independent sources, also claims ISIS is advancing towards the modern heart of the Syrian capital Damascus, still controlled by government forces and their allies, the Lebanese Hezbollah and Iranian Pasdaran. Fighting has been allegedly ongoing for hours in southern districts bordering with areas held by the jihadists.

    UK-based monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a platform close to opposition groups that has been reporting on violence in the country, said fighting was ongoing between the districts of Asali and Qadam. Jihadists have infiltrated from the bordering neighborhood of Hajar al Aswad, where for over a year they have established a stronghold in the southern district of Damascus.

    And from Libya local sources unanimously reported that 200 Nigerian terrorists from Boko Haram have reached Sirte through eastern Niger. In Nigeria, Boko Haram has carried out since 2009 dozens of attacks on villages with atrocities of all kinds, killing at least 15,000 people and displacing a reported 1.5 million. The latest massacre was reported today: 56 civilians were killed in a remote village in north-east Nigeria.

    The declared alliance with the Islamic State dates back to the beginning of this year. Experts said it is now easy for Nigerian jihadists to reach Libya also because ISIS is ready to finance the passage of men and arms from sub-Saharan Africa to North Africa. It is still unclear whether Nigerian militants took part in a parade organized by the Islamic State in Sirte.

    According to local sources, the Libyan port hosted yesterday a jihadist meeting in a conference room in the city.

    © Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved

    Business opportunities

    The information system of business
    opportunities abroad

    News from Mediterranean