The Telegraph Newspaper published yesterday, Monday March 28th, 2016, an article on the liberation of Palmyra written by Mr. Raf Sanchez
, to sum up the battles between last Thursday up to date.
In the middle of the article, Mr. Sanchez rewrote what Prof. Maamoun Abdulkarim, director-general of antiquities and museum in Syria, has stated by rephrasing, partitioning, and recomposing, to end up giving totally wrong statements.
We, hereby, state our view of 2 things, which we keep confirming with all the media we have spoken with recently:
First: Why the terrorist militants of ISIS have stopped destroying the city.
Since last year, we have been leaning on the role of the local community and the intellectual, tribal, and religious figures during the conflict in Palmyra, in order to crowd and mobilize the 50’000 residents of the city; in addition, there were about 50 staff members of DGAM regional office there, who must have been active to preserve the historical ruins.
We believe that all those aware crowd in the city have interfered when the militants of ISIS killed the late Khaled Asaad, then exploded Baalshamin Temple, the Sella of Bel Temple, and the Triumphal Arch, and, consequently, could relatively stop ISIS’ lethal actions. Palmyra is the pride of its inhabitants, and their identity and history; moreover, tourism forms the centre of their economical power.
Second: Why terrorist militants of ISIS have only peeled the faces of the museum statues and thrown them down the floor broken, rather than selling them.
Upon the invasion of ISIS to the city of Palmyra in May 2015, we have stated on DGAM website that the staff of DGAM regional office in Palmyra could evacuate about 400 statues or heads of statues, in addition to hundreds of exhibits at the museum, i.e. artifacts, transportable statues, storage boxes. The sudden invasion of terrorist militants of ISIS in May 2015 made it difficult to evacuate the larger statues and a few exhibited heads of statues fixed on the walls of the museum halls.
Whilst ISIS terrorists target treasures and encourage illicit trafficking to sponsor their operations, they “believe” that statues are idols against their ideologies and, consequently, they do not trade with them. On the other hand, they could not find any of the artifacts as we have already evacuated all.
The following are 2 examples of Prof. Abdulkarim’s interviews to confirm our view regarding the 2 issues above, with no alterations:
Scenes From Palmyra Indicate ISIS Slowed Assault on Treasures
, with The New York Times.
Syrian antiquities chief: We'll rebuild Palmyra temples
, on CNN.
As we feel strange reading Mr. Sanchez’ interpretations to our views, we denounce such misleading unclarity in order to serve a political goal, which at the end underestimates the liberation of Palmyra, the local society in Palmyra, and the serious efforts of DGAM staff members.
Director-general of Antiquities and Museums
Prof. Maamoun Abdulkarim