Islamic State militants beheaded an antiquities scholar in the city of Palmyra, Syria, after which they hung his corpse on a column in the main square of the city, according to a Syrian official.
Reuters reported that Syrian state antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said family members of Khaled Asaad, an 82-year-old archaeologist who headed antiquities in the city for more than 50 years, was murdered by the Islamic State (IS) Tuesday.
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Asaad had been captured and interrogated by the militants for over a month.
In May, IS took control of the Syrian city famous for its ancient ruins. While there are no reports yet that IS has destroyed Palmyra’s Roman-era ruins, the terrorist group did blow up two ancient shrines in the city in June.
"Just imagine that such a scholar who gave such memorable services to the place and to history would be beheaded … and his corpse still hanging from one of the ancient columns in the center of a square in Palmyra," Abdulkarim said of the execution.
"The continued presence of these criminals in this city is a curse and bad omen on [Palmyra] and every column and every archaeological piece in it," added the official.
Asaad had been published multiple times in international archaeological journals about Palmyra, even partnering with with U.S., French, German and Swiss archeological missions in the 2,000-year-old ruins in the city.
Despite the Obama administration’s bomb campaign against the terror group, the Islamic State has been accumulating territory in Iraq and Syria, implementing traditional methods of governance in the areas that it controls.
In fact, U.S. intelligence agencies recently concluded that the U.S. campaign against IS has resulted in no perceivable degradation of the terrorist organization’s forces.
The Pentagon has been training moderate Syrian insurgents to combat IS militants in the region, a program that has cost $41 million in training and equipment and yielded only 54 U.S.-trained Syrian rebels.