An oasis in the Syrian desert, north-east of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.
From the 1st to the 2nd century, the art and architecture of Palmyra, standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, married Graeco-Roman techniques with local traditions and Persian influences. Following the capture of Palmyra in Syria, ISIL was reported as not intending to demolish the city’s World Heritage Site (while still intending to destroy any statues deemed ‘polytheistic’).
On 27 May 2015, ISIL released an 87-second video showing parts of the apparently undamaged ancient colonnades, the Temple of Bel and the Roman theatre.
On 27 June 2015, however, ISIL demolished the ancient Lion of Al-lāt statue in Palmyra. (It has since been restored, and is in storage in a Damascus museum until it can be determined that the statue can be safely returned to Palmyra.) Several other statues from Palmyra reportedly confiscated from a smuggler were also destroyed by ISIL.
On 23 August 2015, it was reported that ISIL had blown up the 1st-century Temple of Baalshamin. On 30 August 2015, ISIL demolished the Temple of Bel with explosives. Satellite imagery of the site taken shortly after showed almost nothing remained.