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The Islamic State Raises Its Flag Over Palmyra’s Ruins

The Islamic State released a photo Friday showing its black-and-white flag flying high above the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which is home to ruins that many observers fear the militant group may destroy. Posted on Twitter a day after the Islamic State declared that it had seized full control of the city, the photo, ...

Screen Shot 2015-05-22 at 5

The Islamic State released a photo Friday showing its black-and-white flag flying high above the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which is home to ruins that many observers fear the militant group may destroy.

Posted on Twitter a day after the Islamic State declared that it had seized full control of the city, the photo, which shows the group’s flag planted on the ramparts of Palmyra’s castle, was among several images from the city that the group released Friday.

Others displayed weapons taken from the city’s prison, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

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The Islamic State’s capture of Palmyra has intensified fears for the city’s rich archaeological heritage, a mix of influences from the Roman Empire, Persia, India, and even China. UNESCO has designated Palmyra a World Heritage site, and its ruins represent some Syria’s richest cultural patrimony.

The Islamic State already has destroyed countless cultural artifacts across the territories it occupies, from the tomb of Jonah in Mosul to dozens of Shiite shrines and mosques in both Syria and Iraq. Now, by flying its flag above Palmyra, the group is showing that that city’s ancient temples, colonnades, and other ruins are also at its mercy.

Image via SITE Intelligence Group

Justine Drennan was a fellow at Foreign Policy. She previously reported from Cambodia for the Associated Press and other outlets. Twitter: @jkdrennan
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