IS beheads antiquities chief in ancient Palmyra city

Damascus: Islamic State terrorists have beheaded an antiquities scholar in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and hung his body on a column in a main square of the historic site, Syria’s antiquities chief has said on Wednesday.

The IS militants, who stormed Palmyra in May, tried to take information out of the 81-year-old Khaled al-Asaad about the locations of the historic treasures of Palmyra before killing him, Xinhua news agency cited Syrian official SANA news.

After failing to extract any information, the IS “barbarically” beheaded Assad, who was also the former manager of Palmyra’s antiquities, and hung his body on one of the historic columns in central Palmyra.

Maamoun Abdul-Karim, the head of the Syrian National Museums and Antiquities, said the antiquities directorate had repeatedly asked Asaad to leave Palmyra after the IS attack, but “he refused to leave his city and his hometown even if he had to die”.

The IS stormed Palmyra and its ancient part last May, prompting Syrian troops to wage a counter-offensive for the recapture of that city.

After storming Palmyra, the IS militants blew up the city’s military prison and several Islamic tombs.

Syria has many prehistoric, Greek, Byzantine and Islamic heritages. Before the crisis, Syria had attracted many multinational archaeological missions coming to search for new clues of historical facts on the development of civilizations.