Islamic State militants beheaded a renowned antiquities scholar in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra and hung his mutilated body on a column in a main square of the historic site – because he apparently refused to reveal where valuable artefacts had been moved for safekeeping.
The brutal murder of Khaled al-Asaad (82) is the latest atrocity perpetrated by the jihadi group – which has captured a third of Syria and neighbouring Iraq and declared a ‘caliphate’ on the territory it controls. It has also highlighted Isis’s habit of looting and selling antiquities to fund its activities – as well as destroying them.
Syrian state antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said Asaad’s family had informed him that the scholar – who worked for more than 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra – was killed by Isis on Tuesday.
Asaad had been held for over a month before being murdered. Chris Doyle – director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding – said he had learned from a Syrian source that the archaeologist had been interrogated by Isis about the location of treasures from Palmyra – and had been executed when he refused to cooperate.