ISIL Takfiri terrorists have locked down the museum in the historic Syrian city of Palmyra, Iraqi officials say.
The militants placed guards outside the museum’s doors after destroying some modern plaster statues and raised their ominous flag on the ancient castle overlooking the city’s world heritage site, said the country's antiquities director Mamoun Abdulkarim during a news conference in the capital Damascus on Saturday.
Most of the museum’s statues and artifacts have been transferred from the city, "but there are still the large items, like the sarcophagi, which weigh three or four tones and we could not move. Those are what worry me," he said.
There has so far been no ISIL movement in the archaeological site but "I hope that they do not repeat the same destruction they committed in Iraq," Abdulkarim said.
Enormous loss to humanity
The UN cultural agency has warned that ISIL’s demolition of the world heritage site would be an "enormous loss to humanity."
"Palmyra is an extraordinary World Heritage site in the desert and any destruction to Palmyra [would be] not just a war crime but ... an enormous loss to humanity," said UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova on Thursday.
The Takfiri militants have a history of destroying historical sites. In April, the terrorists released a video showing ISIL members destroying artifacts at Iraq’s ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud before blowing up a part of the site. In February, the terrorists smashed ancient statues at the Ninawa museum in Mosul, using sledgehammers and drills.
The Takfiri terrorists have also razed to the ground a number of mosques in Syria and Iraq, many of them dating back to the early years of the Islamic civilization. The terrorists have also destroyed tombs belonging to revered Shia and Sunni figures.