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Palmyra’s ancient ruins unharmed for now says Syrian antiquities chief

Syria’s antiquities chief said on Tuesday the historic city of Palmyra had been unharmed since ultra-radical Islamic State insurgents seized it from state control last week.

Maamoun Abdulkarim said he was still afraid the jihadist group would blow up Palmyra’s 2,000-year-old Roman ruins at Palmyra including tombs and the Temple of Bel, which could be viewed as idolatrous in its puritanical vision of Islam.

Still, Abdulkarim told Reuters by phone, “the historic city is fine. There is no damage so far”. He cited contacts with people on the ground in the central Syrian city. Palmyra, also known as Tadmur, is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site.

A short video posted by an account supportive of Islamic State on YouTube on Tuesday claimed to show Palmyra after the jihadists took control.

The footage, mostly filmed without sound and people, showed Palmyra’s ancient citadel, columns, colosseum, buildings and walls. One shot showed black smoke rising behind ancient ruins but it did not appear that any of the historical sites had been obviously damaged by the week of fighting.

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