Stone age barbarians…

Isis rounded up civilians trapped in Palmyra and forced them to watch 20 people be executed in the historic city’s ancient amphitheatre, a Syrian monitoring group has claimed.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the men were accused of having fought for President Bashar Assad’s army. It is not known how they were killed.

The Unesco World Heritage site was overrun by militants last week, threatening the future of 2,000 year-old monuments and ruins. Thousands of Palmyra’s residents fled but many are still living within the city walls, while the UN human rights office in Geneva said it had received reports of Syrian government forces preventing people from leaving until they retreated from the city.

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[Bottom Image]  An undated photo made available in February 2014 by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency shows Palestinian and Syrian residents of Yarmouk Palestinian Refugee Camp crowding in a destroyed street during a food distribution. Islamic State fighters seized parts of the camp.

Nusra leader confirms that claims of “Khorasan” terrorist group by US intelligence agencies were fabricated

The leader of the Nusra Front, one of Syria’s most powerful anti-government groups, has said that its main mission is to dislodge the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Abu Mohammed al-Golani, in an exclusive interview aired on Al Jazeera on Wednesday, said that al-Qaeda’s Syria branch had no intention to target the West unless provoked.

“We are only here to accomplish one mission, to fight the regime and its agents on the ground, including Hezbollah and others,” Golani said.

“Nusra Front doesn’t have any plans or directives to target the West. We received clear orders not to use Syria as a launching pad to attack the US or Europe in order to not sabotage the true mission against the regime. Maybe al-Qaeda does that but not here in Syria.”

But his statements did include a warning against the US over its attacks on the armed group, which has been blacklisted a “terrorist organisation” by the US.

“Our options are open when it comes to targeting the Americans if they will continue their attacks against us in Syria. Everyone has the right to defend themselves,” Golani said.

He not only accused Western nations of backing the government of President Assad against the rebels, but of also fabricating the “Khorasan” group - which the US says is a covert faction in Syria that aspires to attack the US.

“The West is targeting Nusra because they know we are the real threat to the Assad regime. This is why they came out and said they are only targeting this group that they called Khorasan,” Golani said.

“There is nothing called Khorasan group.The Americans came up with it to deceive the public. They claim that this secret group was set up to target the Americans but this is not right.”

Golani said the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, which has been accused of rampant atrocities and controls large parts of the country, was a main threat to the Nusra Front.

“Assad forces are fighting us on one end, Hezbollah on another and ISIL on a third front. It is all about their mutual interests,” he said.

When questioned whether the Nusra Front planned to establish Islamic state in Syria, Golani said that after the whole war is over, all factions and groups in the country will be consulted before considering “establishing an Islamic state”.

Golani also said that his group will not target the country’s Alawite minority despite their support for Bashar al-Assad’s government.

“The battle does not end in Qardaha, the Alawite village and the birthplace of the Assad clan,” he said.

“Our war is not a matter of revenge against the Alawites despite the fact that in Islam, they are considered to be heretics.

Iraq exhumes remains of 470 bodies from Tikrit mass graves

“We have exhumed the bodies of 470 Speicher martyrs from burial sites in Tikrit,” Adila Hammoud said at a press conference in Baghdad, referring to the nearby military base that the massacre was named after.

In June 2014, armed men belonging or allied to the ISIS abducted hundreds of young, mostly Shi'a recruits from Speicher base, just outside the city of Tikrit.

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Palmyra - Syria

Take a good hard look because all this is about to be destroyed!

Known as the ‘Venice of the Sands’, the ancient city of Palmyra dates back to at least the second millennium BCE, it’s even mentioned in the Bible & the Talmud.

It was designated as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1980.

Between the first & third century CE the city became very wealthy & prosperous as a leading trading centre after caravan traders from across Syria & the Roman & Persian empires used it as a station for their caravans. It was an important stop on the Silk Road.

Thanks to the prosperous economy the Palmyrenes were able to construct major projects including Hadrian’s Gate (first picture, it was visited by the Roman emperor Hadrian in 129 CE), the Roman theatre (third picture), the temple of Ba’al (fifth picture), & other important temples & monuments.

At its peak the city had over 200,000 inhabitants making it one of the largest cities of its time. The majority of its inhabitants were Arameans, Arabs, & Amorites with Greek, Roman, & Jewish minorities. The main languages spoken were Aramaic & Greek in the Palmyrene alphabet.

Palmyra was at one point one of the greatest civilizations in the world. It’s an immensely important cultural & historical site not just for Syrians but for humanity as a whole.

Palmyra is an archaeological global city & the international community has a responsibility to keep its artefacts in Palmyra where it belongs & defend it against ISIS” - Maamnoun Abdulkarim, director-general of the Syrian directorate of antiquities & museums

The city was seized by ISIS on May 20th 2015, they have pledged to destroy the city & all its historical sites & heritage. Unless the city is quickly retaken from ISIS it will be destroyed just like the Assyrian/Mesopotamian/Babylonian artefacts & ancient sites in Iraq!

Damage to the heritage of a country is damage to the soul of its people and its identity” - Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO 

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ISIS conquest of the historic city of Palmyra, the Unesco world heritage site, marks the first time the group “has seized an entire city from Syrian government forces.”

“The Islamic State militants now control about half of Syria’s territory. Nearly all of that is desert, although the militants have seized critical roads, oil and gas fields, and many sites where valuable antiquities can be excavated, now chief among them Palmyra.“

NYT