ISIS captures World Heritage site in Syria
THE Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized full control of the historic city of Palmyra in central Syria yesterday, just days after it captured a provincial capital in neighbouring Iraq, suggesting momentum is building for the ultra-hardline group.
The twin successes pile pressure not just on Damascus and Baghdad, but also throw doubt on the United States' strategy of relying almost exclusively on air strikes to defeat the Sunni Muslim movement, which is an offshoot of Al-Qaeda.
ISIS said in a statement posted by followers on Twitter that it was in full control of Palmyra, including its military bases, marking the first time it had taken a city directly from President Bashar Al-Assad's army and allied forces.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said ISIS now controls more than half of Syrian territory following four years of civil war.
The radical group has destroyed antiquities and monuments in Iraq and there are fears it might now devastate Palmyra, an ancient World Heritage site and home to renowned Roman-era ruins, including well-preserved temples, colonnades and a theatre.