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Syrian War Has Damaged 300 Archaeological Sites, Palmyra Faces Destruction

© AP Photo / Islamic State social media account via AP, FileThis undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, file photo, on a social media site used by Islamic State militants, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows smoke from the detonation of the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra
This undated photo released Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2015, file photo, on a social media site used by Islamic State militants, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows smoke from the detonation of the 2,000-year-old temple of Baalshamin in Syria's ancient caravan city of Palmyra - Sputnik International
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Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, which has been occupied by ISIL militants for over half a year, is in real danger, and if "nothing is done" and no one helps and intervenes, the city will be completely destroyed, the head of the Syrian Department of Antiquities and Museums said.

A Syrian army soldier fires artillery shells towards Islamic State (IS) group jihadists in northeastern Palmyra on May 17, 2015 - Sputnik International
Hope for Palmyra? Syrian Army Comes Closer to Strategically Important City
MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Some 300 archaeological sites have been destroyed or damaged in Syria since the beginning of the civil war in 2011, the head of the Syrian Department of Antiquities and Museums said.

"Of the more than 10,000 archaeological sites located Syria, 300 have been damaged," Maamoun Abdulkarim said in a interview with French newspaper Le Figaro published on Thursday.

According to him, the destruction of cultural sites has been caused primarily by clashes between extremists and militants and government forces, as well as illegal excavations. He also mentioned that the destruction associated with ideological struggles, referencing the actions of the Islamic State militant group in particular.

Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, which has been occupied by ISIL militants for over half a year, is in real danger, and if "nothing is done" and no one helps and intervenes, the city will be completely destroyed, Abdulkarim warned.

Fighting in Ruins for the Future: Syrian Soldiers on the Battlefield in Palmyra - Sputnik International
Fighting in Ruins for the Future: Syrian Soldiers on Battlefield in Palmyra
The jihadist group ISIL controls large swathes of Syria, as well as Iraq, and has become notorious for destroying ancient relics and temples, which it claims promote idolatry.

Since late May, ISIL has occupied Palmyra, which was one of the most important cultural center of the ancient world. It is included in the UNESCO world heritage list. The militants have significantly damaged the historic site, blowing up the ancient temple of Baal Shamin among others.

Last week, ISIL militants blew up the western entrance to the historic citadel in the city of Aleppo, a large medieval fortified palace in the center of the city, as listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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