Syrian forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, have recaptured Palmyra from the clutches of ISIS terror and, in so doing, rescued part of our world heritage and a priceless view of antiquity. It is also the biggest loss for ISIS since claiming their “caliphate” and a huge PR blow. Yes, that matters.
The ancient Roman city, remarkably intact, was taken by ISIS about ten months ago. Since then reports have come out about the destruction, including the obliteration of a temple, the decapitations of statues, and other damage to the artifacts. In addition, despicably, the barbaric ISIS terrorists murdered the scholar and archaeologist who oversaw the site, Khaled al-Assaad, and hung his body from one of the ancient Roman columns. The city’s amphitheater was used to stage many other executions, usually by beheading.
This weekend, the city was liberated. On Monday the world is getting a look at the damage that was done over the last year. It is terrible and there is a degree of devastation that cannot be repaired. But according to the United Nations, about 80% of the site can in fact be repaired and restored in as little as five years.
Here is drone footage shot on Sunday from the ruins, courtesy of the AP.
One part of town that suffered tragic loss was the museum, which saw artifacts destroyed and artworks crushed to bits.
In addition, and as had been reported over the last ten months, many of the town’s temples were completely obliterated.
Still, the destruction to the ruins overall is not total. That is good news. From ABC:
“I’m devastated,” Dr. Amr Al-Azm, a former director of scientific and conservation laboratories at the general department of antiquities and museums in Syria, tells ABC News. “When [ISIS] destroyed those monuments, they destroyed the most important, most iconic buildings in Palmyra and that represents a tragic loss.”
Officials are expected to start documenting the losses once bomb squads are finished removing mines and bombs planted by ISIS.
“The initial photos that have now been coming out of Palmyra indicate, or seem to indicate, that the damage to the site as a result of the fighting may not have been as great, so that is good news,” says Al-Azm, who is now an associate professor of Middle East history and anthropology at Shawnee State University in Ohio.
Frankly I am overjoyed by this news. While much was lost, not nearly as much was lost as we feared. The destruction of the history of mankind is a high priority for the backward, barbaric forces of ISIS. To lose such an immeasurable treasure in totality would be devastating those who care about knowledge, history, and the truth of man’s journey from creation to now.
Not to mention, the loss for ISIS is a visceral pleasure. And the Syrian forces are not resting on this victory. They have continued to press their advance. They being the Syrians, with the help of Russia. Just to be clear.