Sunday, 21 June 2015

ISIL Lays Mines in Palmyra Ruins?

Several sources are producing alarmist stories that ISIL is "mining" the Palmyra ruins. We remember the fuss made when this strategic road junction was seized by ISIL. We also recall that the group announced that although they'd smash statues, that they'd not topple the colonnades and other parts of the UNESCO World Heritage listed ruins, so popular in the past with tourists.  Now newspaper are asking whether they've gone back on that promise ('Fears after Islamic State group mines Syria's Palmyra AFP 21st June 2015)
Syria's antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said that the group had laid mines and explosives in Palmyra’s Greco-Roman ruins. The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources on the ground, said the explosives were laid on Saturday. "But it is not known if the purpose is to blow up the ruins or to prevent regime forces from advancing into the town," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman. He said regime forces had launched heavy air strikes against the residential part of Palmyra in the past three days, killing at least 11 people.  The regime forces are to the west outside the city, and in recent days they have brought in reinforcements suggesting they may be planning an operation to retake Palmyra," he added.
Let us for the moment take the optimistic view, that ISIL are mining the ruins to prevent advancing regime soldiers using them as cover if they approach the town, forcing them to go round them which either takes them through the crags and hills to the west (not good) or come across the relatively open territory to the south and southwest of the town (with what might be an awkward creek bed on the way). Let us hope then that fighters of both sides stay out of the ruins.

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