MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The ancient Syrian city of Palmyra is included on the UNESCO cultural heritage list for its unique temples and ancient ruins.
"According to the sources in the city, ISIL militants destroyed the Arch of Triumph in the historic part of Palmyra. This tragedy was expected after terrorists blew up two temples of Bel and Baalshamin, as well as ancient tombs," Maamoun Abdulkarim said.
According to Abdulkarim, the witnesses saw the militants mining the arch with a large amount of explosives. He underscored that destruction of the Arch of Triumph "is a very big loss for the history."
"What we a witnessing today is a thoughtful script, according to which the city of Palmyra will be razed to the ground," Abdulkarim stated.
Syria's antiquities chief stressed there could be hope for Palmyra's salvation, if Syrian army immediately goes into the offensive and liberates the city with the support of Russian Air Forces that have recently begun conducting anti-IS airstrikes in Syria upon the request of President Bashar Assad.
ISIL militants have been carrying out attacks against religious shrines and executed minorities in Iraq and Syria, where the extremist Sunni militant group has seized a significant amount of territory and declared a caliphate.
ISIL militants have also captured a number of historic cities, including the ancient city of Palmyra, destroying some of its cultural sites and historic monuments.