Islamic State militants in Syria have beheaded the former director of antiquities in the Palmyra, the ancient city noted worldwide for its archeological treasures, which the extremists seized three months ago.
Palmyra's current director of antiquities, Mamoun Abdulkarim, said his 82-year-old predecessor, Khaled Asaad, was killed on Tuesday. He had worked for 50 years on preserving the city's 2,000-year-old ruins, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Asaad was killed in a public square in Palmyra in front of dozens of people.
Islamic State fighters' seizure of Palmyra in May triggered fears about the fate of the city's antiquities, since the militants are known for destroying artifacts they consider idolatrous.
So far Palmyra has not been pillaged in the same way as other historic areas held by the Islamic State, but the militants placed mines throughout the UNESCO site in June.
Before the extremists took control of Palmyra, Abdulkarim said a museum at the site was emptied and the artifacts were safely relocated.