Syria's antiquities chief says Islamic State militants have destroyed three ancient tower tombs in the central city of Palmyra, continuing efforts to demolish a World Heritage Site.
Maamoun Abdulkarim said Friday the militants destroyed the three famed tower tombs in recent days including the Tower of Elahbel that dates back to the year 103 AD. He said his information was based in part on satellite images provided by the U.S.-based Boston University.
This marks one of a series of deliberate vandalism acts carried out by Islamic State since it captured Palmyra from Syrian government control in May. IS militants had previously destroyed two Roman-era temples in the city, including the Temple of Bel, among other ancient iconic monuments.
COMBO - This combination of two satellite images provided by UNITAR-UNOSAT shows damage to the main building of the ancient Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria on Monday, Aug. 31, 2015, top, and before the damage on Thursday, Aug. 27, 2015. The main building
'Intolerable crime '
Earlier this week, the head of the U.N. cultural agency UNESCO called the destruction of Palmyra an "intolerable crime against civilization."
The militants claim ancient relics and sites of worship promote idolatry. They also have blown up several ancient treasures in Iraq.
Palmyra was an important caravan city of the Roman Empire, linking it to India, China, and Persia. Before the outbreak of Syria's conflict in March 2011, the UNESCO site was one of the top tourist attractions in the Middle East.