World Bulletin / News Desk
Russian warplanes have bombed targets in and around the Syrian city of Palmyra, Syrian state television said Tuesday, in Moscow's first strikes against the ISIL group-controlled area.
"The Russian air force in coordination with the Syrian air force targeted positions held by the ISIL group in and around the city of Palmyra," state television said, citing a military source.
ISIL seized control of Palmyra in May and has realised international fears by destroying some of the most prized sites in the UNESCO World Heritage listed ancient city.
On Sunday, the group blew up the Arch of Triumph at the site, after previously razing two famed temples, including the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel.
ISIL regards statues and grave markers as idolatrous, though it has smuggled and sold antiquities without qualms to raise money.
Experts say the group destroys ancient sites in part for propaganda values, grabbing headlines and attracting potential recruits.
Syria's antiquities chief Maamun Abdulkarim warned Monday of a "systematic destruction" of Palmyra.
"They want to raze it completely," he told AFP.
Syria's army has advanced towards Palmyra from the west in recent months, but experts have warned any attack by regime forces could only speed up ISIL's destruction of its remaining treasures.Last Mod: 06 Ekim 2015, 13:27