Islamic State has released a video showing the ruins of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra undamaged by the group’s takeover.
The jihadist group has destroyed many ancient artifacts in its conquests, which extend to roughly one-third of Syria and Iraq, including most recently in the Iraqi cities of Hatra and Mosul. Archaeologists fear the group’s taking of Palmyra could spell the final destruction of one of the most remarkable and well-preserved ruins of the classical world.
But on Tuesday, the Internet-savvy terror group uploaded a 1.5-minute video of the ruins still intact.
According to the British daily The Guardian, activists reported that the group had promised to only destroy statues that violated the radical Islamist group’s religious prohibition against what it sees as polytheistic depictions.
It was not clear from news reports whether the archaeological evidence from the city’s ancient Jewish presence was still intact.
IS’s apparent concern for world opinion didn’t extend to the people captured when Islamic State fighters took the city. The group used the city’s ancient Roman theater as a site for some 20 executions of people it alleged were pro-Assad fighters.
Earlier this week, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova called for an immediate cessation of hostilities in the area and for the international community “to do everything in its power to protect the affected population and safeguard the unique cultural heritage of Palmyra.”
Ilan Ben Zion contributed to this report.