War

82-year-old Syrian scholar who was beheaded refused to lead ISIS to hidden Palmyra artifacts

In the ancient Syrian site of Palmyra last year, Islamic State militants sentenced an 82-year-old renowned antiquities scholar to death after he refused to reveal the location of valuable artifacts which had been hidden for safekeeping.

Image: ISIS in Palmyra

In the ancient Syrian site of Palmyra last year, Islamic State militants sentenced an 82-year-old renowned antiquities scholar to death after he refused to reveal the location of valuable artifacts which had been hidden for safekeeping.

The scholar, Khaled al-Asaad, was beheaded. According to Syrian state news agency Sana, the scholar was murdered in front of dozens of people and his body was hung from one of the Roman column’s at Palmyra’s archaeological site.

According to Maamoun Abdulkarim, The Syrian state antiquities chief, Asaad’s family said that the man, who had worked as head of antiquities in Palmyra for over half a century, was killed by ISIS in August of 2015. Director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding Chris Doyle said that he learned from a Syrian source that Asaad had been held and interrogated for over a month before his execution for refusing to reveal the location of important artifacts.

This week, news broke revealing that Syrian forces had recaptured the ancient city from the militants.

From CNN:

The army, along with militias loyal to the government, seized the city and chased out ISIS fighters, al-Ikhbariya TV reported. The Russian air force was key in taking back Palmyra, according to Syria’s state-run SANA news agency, quoting army command.

According to the Guardian, Asaad had played a role in evacuating the contents of the museum before ISIS took control, which meant he faced certain arrest. “He’d been there for so long and been part of that city for so long, maybe he figured he lived there all his life and he would die there too, and that’s unfortunately what happened,”Amr al-Azm, a former Syrian antiquities official said.

 

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