The Slatest

ISIS Executes Respected 81-Year-Old Syrian Archaeologist

Khaled Asad, the Director of Antiquities and Museum in Palmyra.
Khaled al-Asaad, the former director of Palmyra’s historic site and museum, in front of a sarcophagus.

Photo by Marc Deville/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

ISIS jihadis have executed 81-year-old Khaled al-Asaad, an archaelogist who supervised the 2,000-year-old historic site of Palmyra for four decades. From the AP:

According to Syrian state news agency SANA and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, al-Assad was beheaded on Tuesday in a square outside the town’s museum. The Observatory, which has a network of activists on the ground in Syria, said dozens of people gathered to witness the killing. Al-Asaad had been held by the IS for about a month, it added.

His body was then taken to Palmyra’s archaeological site and hung from one of the Roman columns, Maamoun Abdulkarim, the head of the Antiquities and Museums Department in Damascus, told SANA.

Al-Assad had retired in 2003. Another Syrian scholar told the AP that ISIS interrogated al-Assad before killing him in an effort to uncover antiquities that were hidden before Palmyra came under control of the jihadis, who are notorious for destroying ancient structures they consider idolatrous. Here’s a shot of the city’s iconic Roman-era ruins:

Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty

The ruins have remained largely intact since the ISIS takeover, but a statue of a lion that stood in front of a museum has been destroyed.