IS damages ancient Temple of Bel in Syria’s Palmyra

Islamic State (IS) militant group has destroyed part of historical Temple of Bel in the ancient site of Palmyra in Syria.

The ancient temple was dedicated to the Palmyrene gods and was one of the best preserved parts of the historical sites of Palmyra.

Key facts

  • The ancient site of Palmyra in ancient times was one of the most important cultural centres and now has monumental ruins of great ancient city.
  • The site boasts a number of monumental projects including more than thousand columns and more than 500 tombs.
  • The art and architecture of this city is blend of Greco-Roman techniques with combination of local traditions and Persian influences, dating back to the 1st and 2nd centuries.
  • The ancient city of Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was a major tourist attraction of Syria before it descended into civil war.

Earlier in August 2015, IS militant group had destroyed the ancient Temple of Baalshamin in same region of Palmyra.


Syrian woman Journalist Zaina Erhaim wins 2015 Peter Mackler Award

A Syria-based woman journalist Zaina Erhaim has won the prestigious 2015 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism.

She was bestowed with this award for her efforts to train citizen reporters in her war-ravaged country. She has trained about 100 citizen reporters (third of them are women) from inside Syria over the last two years. She also has helped in establishing new, independent newspapers and magazines in the war-torn country.

Presently, Erhaim lives and works in Aleppo, Syria and will be presented with this award at a ceremony to be held at the National Press Club in Washington in late October 2015.

It should be noted that since 2011, the media rights group has listed Syria as the deadliest country for journalists.

About Peter Mackler Award

  • The award has been named in the memory of late Agence France-Presse (AFP) journalist Peter Mackler.
  • It was instituted in 2008 to honour the memory of Mackler, who had died of a heart attack in the same year at the age of 58.
  • It is given by journalist training consortium comprising of Reporters Without Borders, AFP and Global Media Forum which was founded by Mackler.


IS seizes central Syrian town of Qaryatain

The radical militants of Sunni Islamist militant group Islamic State (IS) have seized Qaryatain, a key town in central Syria. It was seized following heavy clashes with Syrian forces.

It is IS’s biggest advance after it had captured the historic town of Palmyra in May 2015.

The town of Qaryatain lies southwest of Palmyra and it is heavily populated town with a mixed population of around 40,000 Sunni Muslims and Christians, as well as thousands or internally displaced people.

Qaryatain lies midway between the cities of Palmyra, Homs and Damascus and is home to towering Roman ruins. Its capture gives the IS group strategic link up to areas under its control around and in Palmyra with areas in the eastern countryside of Qalamoun in Damascus province of Syria.