As violence escalates in the ISIS-occupied city of Palmyra in Syria, the Islamic State group claims they will not bulldoze the ancient city’s architectural wonders. The group released a video on YouTube this week, showing the buildings intact, and the accompanying audio states that ISIS “will not destroy them,” but instead will target historic statues they believe were “worshiped by heretics” in the past. The video comes just before the group is said to have executed twenty people in front of a crowd at a Roman theater in Palmyra.

The ancient city of Palmyra was seized by ISIS on May 21, and the group has reportedly executed at least 217 people thus far. The jihadist group has also made a habit of destroying precious historical, architectural and religious relics in the cities in their possession, most recently at the Mosul Museum in Iraq. Video and photographs of Islamic State militants smashing priceless ancients statues with sledgehammers and AK47s have been released over the course of the past year, with the claim that the objects do not support non-Islamic ideas.

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The video released this week stated that Palmyra has been conquered by Emir Abu Laith al-Saudi, and specifically mentions that the city’s ancient architecture will not be purposely harmed, “god willing.” It goes on to state that statues will, however be destroyed. Since the beginning, ISIS has used the elimination of cultural heritage as a tool of destruction and intimidation.

Via Art Info