Syrian Civil War Update: Temple of Bel Destruction and Russian Involvement

Over a week ago,  the 2000-year-old Temple of Bel was destroyed in an explosion, in the ISIS-controlled city of Palmyra, Syria. The temple was the best, and most well-preserved, example of ancient civilization in Palmyra. It was a structure with architectural influences from many surrounding regions, from Greece to Mesopotamia. The temple was classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO, and was an important site for archaeological investigations as well as for its magnificence and importance to history.

Temple of Bel in Palmyra before its destruction – Wikipedia

This of course is not the first time ISIS has destroyed a monument of great historical importance. The group is known for their nihilist attitude, destroying anything that has no place in their religion, even if that may be a world heritage site that can never be rebuilt. These acts, and especially the destruction of the Temple of Bel, have been labelled serious war crimes – actions that violate the laws and customs of wars, infringing on human rights or destroying non-militant buildings, towns or cities.

For those who don’t have a clear idea of what ISIS is, the group is a jihadist militant group originating from Iraq, and is a belligerent in the Syrian Civil War that has been continuing since March of 2011. The war is a complicated 4-side struggle for control of Syria, with the government of President Assad fighting against rebellions, ISIS, as well as the Rojava autonomous region in the north. To date, ISIS (or Islamic State, or ISIL, or of other aliases) has taken control of over a third of Syria as well as most of its oil and gas production, prompting international action.

Thus, in the past week, the Russian Federation has also been increasing its military presence in Syria, strictly to support President Assad’s regime. There are reports of Russian air crafts and drones in the area, in addition to its various vehicles and stations already in Syria.

And so, the Syrian Civil War continues to rage – one of the largest conflicts since the Cold War era, which has already killed over 200 thousand people, and displaced millions of Syrians.