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article imageIslamic State advancing, will destroy ancient ruins of Tadmur

By Karen Graham     May 14, 2015 in World
Syrian government forces are fighting Islamic State militants within one mile of the ancient ruins of Palmyra, close by the city of Tadmur. The jihadists are attacking a prison where members are being held, and an air base.
Tadmur has been in the thick of the four-year-long Syrian conflict and is the home to the extensive ruins of one of the world's most important cultural heritage sites. The site was listed as an endangered UNESCO site in 2013.
Reuters is saying that an Islamic fighter reached online says the group was shelling an air base close to Tadmur, near Palmyra, an oasis 134 miles to the northeast of Damascus The group is also attacking an area near the prison where some of the members of ISIS are believed to be held. "The airport is also a major weapons depot. We want these weapons," he said.
Syria's antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim is warning that ISIS will destroy the ancient site, just as it has ransacked and destroyed sites in Iraq. What is already worrisome is the damage already done to Palmyra during the four-year-long Syrian conflict.
It is fairly obvious to an observer what the Islamic State is attempting to do here. Strategically, Palmyra is on the road to the capital, Damascus and the contested city of Deir al-Zour, very close to oil fields.
On Thursday, the UK-based activist group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the AFP that Islamic State militants had taken all the army posts between Tadmur and the north-eastern town of al-Sukhanah, moving very fast in the strike.
The group's director, Rami Abdul Rahman, said 26 civilians were executed by ISIS for collaboration with President Bashar al-Assad's government, with at least 10 of those people being beheaded.
ISIS itself has tweeted that the group has already taken control of the northern and eastern parts of Tadmur and also shot down a Syrian air force MiG jet in the area. If Tadmur falls, it will be the first town taken by Islamic State fighters directly fighting with government troops.
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