Syrian Forces Regain Palmyra from ISIS

Lives, and the ancient city’s historical heritage at stake

Z Goodman, Staff Reporter

On May 20, 2015, ISIS captured the ancient city of Palmyra. The city hold many significant architectural wonders and is essential to world history (NY Times).

ISIS, the radical Islamic terrorist “state” began to form as early as 2004. The group took advantage of chaos in Syria and western Iraq, and by 2011 had seized a large amount of land from northern Syria to central Iraq. ISIS has taken over areas where oil is drilled, the sale of which helps support their operations. ISIS also continued to strike fear into people with their recent attack on Brussels and their attack in Paris late last year. (CNN)

The capture of Palmyra endangered a UNESCO World Heritage site that is said to be “”stood at the crossroads of several civilizations,” with its art and architecture mixing Greek, Roman and Persian influences:” Many people feared that ISIS would completely destroy the ruins of the ancient city. Centuries of non-Islamic art and history were potentially in danger as a result of the city’s capturing; this was not just vandalism, but controlled demolitions in some cases using explosives.

Emily Martinez of Fort Drum, New York reacted to the news, saying “It’s so sad that they raised all this havoc.”

A Palmyra resident (unidentified in the CNN report) also accused the historians and governments of not caring about the residents themselves and only showing concern for  the potentially damaged artifacts. (CNN) However, anyone or anything near any of the damage and destruction of ISIS was in grave danger.

Luckily, on March 25, 2016 the city was liberated by the Syrian army with the help of Russian airstrikes. There is significant damage done to the city but there is much hope of restoration. Mikhail Piotrovsky, the  Director of the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg Russia says,   “The damage done to Palmyra architectural monuments is enormous, but it has not been razed to the ground completely. The main symbol of the city – the famous columns, they are standing, and we now have to inspect the site accurately to determine, what else is left there.”

Sadly, there are many parts of the city that are not able to be restored such as the 2,000 old Bel Temple, which was blown into pieces, and a Roman theater that was used for public executions.

Emily Martinez of Fort Drum, New York reacted to the news, saying “It’s so sad that they raised all this havoc.”