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ISIS militants have blown up the Arch of Triumph in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syrian officials and local sources say.

The Arch of Triumph was “pulverized” by the ISIS fighters who control the city, a Palmyra activist told AFP.

The monument is thought to have been built about 2,000 years ago.

ISIS has already destroyed two ancient temples at the site, described by UNESCO as one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world.Palmyra Arch of Triumph destroyed by ISIS

“The Arch of Triumph was pulverized. ISIS has destroyed it,” Mohammad Hassan al-Homsi, an activist from Palmyra told AFP on October 5.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group monitoring the conflict, said sources on the ground had confirmed the destruction.

Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim also confirmed the news, and told Reuters news agency that if ISIS remains in control of Palmyra, “the city is doomed”.

UNESCO’s director general Irina Bokova has said the destruction constitutes a “war crime” and called on the international community to stand united against IS efforts to “deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history”.

ISIS believes shrines or statues represent idolatry, and should be destroyed.

In August, ISIS destroyed the ancient Temple of Baalshamin – one of the city’s best-known buildings built nearly 2,000 years ago.

The group has also published photos of militants destroying what it said were artifacts looted at Palmyra.

ISIS militants captured the historic site from Syrian government troops in May, amid a series of setbacks for forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria’s conflict, which began in 2011, has left more than 250,000 dead and about half the country’s population displaced.

ISIS has destroyed part of Palmyra’s Temple of Bel, which is considered the most important temple at the ancient Syrian site, activists and witnesses say.

The extent of the damage to the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel is not clear but local residents have described being shaken by a large explosion.

The reports come a week after ISIS blew up another Palmyra temple.

ISIS seized control of Palmyra in May, sparking fears for the site.

The world-famous Greco-Roman ruins are in the desert north-east of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

“It is total destruction,” one Palmyra resident told the Associated Press news agency.

Photo Wikipedia

Photo Wikipedia

“The bricks and columns are on the ground.”

“It was an explosion the deaf would hear,” he went on, adding that only the wall of the temple remains.

The temple was dedicated to the Palmyrene gods and was one of the best preserved parts of the site.

It was several days after the initial reports of the destruction of another part of the site, the Temple of Baalshamin that ISIS itself put out pictures showing its militants blowing up the temple.

Satellite images have confirmed the destruction.

For the extremists, any representation implying the existence of a god other than theirs is sacrilege and idolatry.

Earlier this month ISIS murdered 81-year-old Khaled al-Asaad, the archaeologist who had looked after the Palmyra ruins for 40 years.

Khaled al-Asaad’s family told Syria’s director of antiquities that he had been beheaded.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova praised Khaled al-Asaad, saying ISIS “murdered a great man, but they will never silence history”.

The ancient city of Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was a major tourist attraction before Syria descended into civil war.

UNESCO has condemned the deliberate destruction of Syria’s cultural heritage as a war crime.

The modern city of Palmyra – known locally as Tadmur – is situated in a strategically important area on the road between the Syrian capital, Damascus, and the eastern city of Deir al-Zour.

ISIS has used Palmyra’s theatre to stage the public execution by children of more than 20 captured Syrian army soldiers.

The militant group has ransacked and demolished several similar sites in the parts of neighboring Iraq which they overran last year, destroying priceless ancient artifacts.

The UN estimates that over 250,000 people have been killed in Syria since the war began in 2011.

Over 4 million people have fled Syria and 7.6 million are displaced inside the country.

Palmyra’s ancient temple of Baalshamin has been destroyed by ISIS militants, Syrian officials and activists say.

Syria’s head of antiquities was quoted as saying the temple was blown up on August 23.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that it happened one month ago.

The Islamic State took control of Palmyra in May, sparking fears the group might demolish the UNESCO World Heritage site.ISIS destroyed Baalshamin temple in Palmyra

The group has destroyed several ancient sites in Iraq.

ISIS “placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baalshamin today and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple,” Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told AFP news agency.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, residents who had fled from Palmyra also said ISIS had planted explosives at the temple, although they had done it about one month ago.

Last month, ISIS published photos of militants destroying what it said were artifacts looted at Palmyra.

Last week, it emerged that the 81-year-old archaeologist who had looked after Palmyra’s ruins for four decades had been beheaded by ISIS.

According to new reports, ISIS has taken near complete control of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

Palmyra is home to some of the world’s most magnificent ruins.

There are fears that the Islamic State militants will destroy the ruins, which UNESCO has designated a World Heritage site.

Syria has admitted it has pulled government troops out of Palmyra following the ISIS advance.

ISIS militants have demolished several ancient sites that pre-date Islam in Iraq, including Hatra and Nimrud.

Syrian state media said pro-government forces had been pulled out of Tadmur, the modern settlement on Palmyra, after “assuring the evacuation” of most of its inhabitants.



Hundreds of Palmyra’s statues have been moved to safety but large monuments from the ancient parts of the city could not be moved.

Rising out of the desert, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world, according to UNESCO.

The site, most of which dates back to the 1st and 2nd Century when the region was under Roman rule, is dominated by a grand, colonnaded street.

UNESCO’s Director-General Irina Bokova said she was “deeply concerned” by the situation.

“The fighting is putting at risk one of the most significant sites in the Middle East, and its civilian population,” Irina Bokova said in a statement.

Palmyra is situated in a strategically important area on the road between the capital, Damascus, and the contested eastern city of Deir al-Zour, and is close to gas fields.

A United States-led coalition has carried out air strikes on the jihadist group’s positions since September 2014. However, it says it does not co-ordinate its actions with the Syrian government.

Meanwhile, the US said it was sending 1,000 anti-tank missiles to the Iraqi government following the fall of Ramadi to ISIS.

The minaret of Umayyad Mosque, one of Syria’s most famous, has been destroyed during clashes in the northern city of Aleppo.

The state news agency Sana accused rebels of blowing up the 11th-Century minaret of the Umayyad Mosque.

However, activists say the minaret was hit by Syrian army tank fire.

The mosque, which is a Unesco world heritage site, has been in rebel hands since earlier this year but the area around it is still contested.

Last October Unesco appealed for the protection of the site, which it described as “one of the most beautiful mosques in the Muslim world”.

Images posted on the internet showed the minaret reduced to a pile of rubble in the mosque’s tiled courtyard.

The minaret of Umayyad Mosque, one of Syria's most famous, has been destroyed during clashes in the northern city of Aleppo

The minaret of Umayyad Mosque, one of Syria’s most famous, has been destroyed during clashes in the northern city of Aleppo

Other parts of the mosque complex – which dates mostly from the 12th Century – have been badly damaged by gunfire and shell hits.

A report by Sana said fighters from the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra group had destroyed the once famous landmark.

It quoted an official source saying that “terrorists… placed explosive materials in the minaret and the mosque’s southern door and set them off”.

However, Aleppo-based activist Mohammed al-Khatib, quoted by AP news agency, said a tank shell had “totally destroyed” the 45 m (148 ft) minaret.

The mosque has suffered extensive damage during months of fighting, with antique furnishings and intricately sculpted colonnades affected.

Reports say some ancient artefacts have also been looted, including a box purported to contain a strand of the Prophet Muhammad’s hair.

However, rebels said they had salvaged ancient handwritten Koranic manuscripts and hidden them.

Earlier, rebels and government forces reportedly clashed near Aleppo as they fought for control of a military airbase.

Rebels took a key military position outside the Minnigh airport on Tuesday and launched another raid on Wednesday, according to opposition activists with the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

“The rebels, who have laid siege to the airport for months now, entered it for the first time around dawn,” Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the UK-based activist group, told AFP news agency.

Heavy fighting was taking place in the grounds, he added.

Analysts say losing control of the airport would be a strategic blow for the government.

The Free Syrian Army has been trying to seize a number of airbases in the area to disrupt regime supply routes.

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A $1 billion project to build a replica of the Taj Mahal has been unveiled in the Gulf emirate of Dubai.

The Taj Arabia complex would be much bigger than the original monument to love and include a 300-room hotel, shops and commercial buildings, developer Arun Mehra said.

It would be ready by 2014 and be known as the “New City of Love”, he said.

The complex will also house other structures such as the Eiffel Tower, Pyramids and the Great Wall of China.

The Taj Mahal, which is situated in the northern Indian town of Agra, is a Unesco World Heritage site.

It was completed more than 350 years ago by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a shrine for his wife Mumtaz and took more than 20 years to build.

The white marble mausoleum, situated on the banks of the river Yamuna, is sometimes known as a teardrop on the cheek of time.

The Taj Arabia complex will be built around the Taj Mahal which is a “symbol of love and will include various facilities to encapsulate the beauty of life, love and romance mixed with the long established Mughal architecture”, Arun Mehra, who is the chairman of Link Global Group, told the Press Trust of India.

The developers say they hope that the Taj Arabia will become a new wedding destination and attract couples to it.

An earlier plan to build the complex was shelved when the company was hit by the global economic downturn.


Firefighting teams in Spain’s Canary Islands are struggling anew to contain forest fires said to have forced some 4,700 people to leave their homes.

On the island of Tenerife, the blaze has cut road links and power lines.

On the neighboring island of La Gomera officials say the fire has destroyed part of a nature reserve with “incalculable ecological value”.

Spain has been hard hit by forest fires after its driest winter in 70 years.

Blazes are also raging in the mainland region of Galicia.

Firefighting teams in Spain’s Canary Islands are struggling anew to contain forest fires said to have forced some 4,700 people to leave their homes

Firefighting teams in Spain’s Canary Islands are struggling anew to contain forest fires said to have forced some 4,700 people to leave their homes

Fires first erupted on La Gomera a week ago, but by Monday the blaze was thought to be under control and aircraft used to help put out the flames had even been sent elsewhere, regional official Nancy Melo told the Associated Press news agency.

But on Friday the islands’ government said the fire had now intensified, and a fresh blaze had begun on Tenerife.

About 2,500 people have been evacuated on La Gomera, along with some 2,200 people on Tenerife, the Agence France-Presse news agency quoted the regional government as saying.

On La Gomera, the flames have devoured some 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of land, AFP said.

That includes a tenth of the Garajonay nature reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, some of which is believed to have been in existence for millions of years. Officials have already said it will take at least three decades for the burned areas of the reserve to recover.

Firefighters battling the blazes were up against “high temperatures, low humidity and wind” fanning the flames, regional economy minister Javier Gonzalez Ortiz was quoted as saying.

The dry winter has been followed by a scorching heatwave.

On the mainland, villages have been evacuated in the Galician province of Ourense as more forest fires rage out of control.

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Australia announces that it will create the world’s largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit.

The reserves will cover 3.1 million sq km of ocean, including the Coral Sea.

Restrictions will be placed on fishing and oil and gas exploration in the protected zone covering more than a third of Australia’s waters.

Environment Minister Tony Burke, who made the announcement, will attend the earth summit in Brazil next week with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

“It’s time for the world to turn a corner on protection of our oceans,” Tony Burke said.

“And Australia today is leading that next step.”

Australia announces that it will create the world's largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit

Australia announces that it will create the world's largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit

Australia has timed its announcement to coincide with the run-up to the Rio+20 Earth Summit – a global gathering of leaders from more than 130 nations to discuss protecting key parts of the environment, including the ocean.

The plans, which have been years in the making, will proceed after a final consultation process.

Last year, the Australian government announced plans to protect the marine life in the Coral Sea – an area of nearly 1 million sq km.

The sea – off the Queensland coast in northeastern Australia – is home to sharks and tuna, isolated tropical reefs and deep sea canyons. It is also the resting place of three US navy ships sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.

The network of marine reserve will also include the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The plan will see the numbers of marine reserves off the Australian coast increased from 27 to 60.

“What we’ve done is effectively create a national parks estate in the ocean,” Tony Burke told Australian media.

However, activists and environmental protection groups are likely to be less than satisfied with the plans, having called for a complete ban on commercial fishing in the Coral Sea.

The fishing industry is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, reports say.

Some have also noted that oil and gas exploration continue to be allowed near some protected areas, particularly off Western Australia.

The Australian Conservation Foundation said that although the plan didn’t go as far as they would like, it was a major achievement in terms of ocean conservation.

Currently the world’s largest marine reserve is a 545,000-sq-km area established by the UK around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.