Islamic State (Isis) jihadis have destroyed a 2,000-year-old statue of a lion outside the museum in the Syrian city of Palmyra, the country’s antiquities director has said, The Guardian reports.
Maamoun Abdelkarim said the statue, known as the Lion of al-Lat, was an irreplaceable piece. “IS members on Saturday destrotyed he Lion of al-Lat, which is a unique piece that is three metres [10ft] tall and weighs 15 tonnes,” Abdelkarim told AFP. “It’s the most serious crime they have committed against Palmyra’s heritage.”
The limestone statue was discovered in 1977 by a Polish archaeological mission at the temple of al-Lat, a pre-Islamic Arabian goddess, and dated back to the 1st century BC.
Abdelkarim said the statue had been covered with a metal plate and sandbags to protect it from fighting, “but we never imagined that IS would come to the town to destroy it.”
Isis captured Palmyra, a Unesco world heritage site, from government forces on 21 May, prompting international concern about the fate of the city’s antiquities.