A 5.5-meter (20ft) recreation of the 1,800-year-old Arch of Triumph in Palmyra, Syria, is seen at Trafalgar Square in London, Britain April 19, 2016. Photo: Reuters

ARA News 

DAMASCUS – Subsequent to the destruction of the Roman ‘Arch of Triumph’ by the radical group of Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria’s historic city of Palmyra, a facsimile of the same arch was unveiled in London’s Trafalgar Square on Tuesday, showing sympathy with Middle Eastern heritage amidst devastating war in the region. 

The piece was created by Oxford Institute for Digital Archaeology which has launched a project aims to raise awareness of heritage in the Middle East and Syria. However, many Syrian artists and activists showed resentment regarding the project, arguing it was better the project’s funds to be received directly by Syrians to help them preserve their heritage.

Palmyra contains historic monumental pieces in the most important cultural centers in the world; Palmyra’s architecture is a place where several civilizations had met together.

“ISIS should not have been able to destroy a monument of this kind; it represents all of us across the world,” the institute director Roger Michael told reporters on Tuesday.

In August 2015, satellite images confirmed the destruction of the Baal Shamin temple in Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra, according to the United Nations, which condemned ISIS claims of destroying the temple.

The U.N. has slammed the destruction of the temple as a “war crime,” and the act has raised concerns for the rest of the UNESCO World Heritage site.

Also, ISIS published images last August, showing militants placing explosives into the temple in order to destroy the ancient monuments arguing they are worshipped by people and must be smashed, according to ISIS ideology.

Speaking to ARA News in Damascus, Syrian journalist Suhaib Hasan said that those who launched the project [replica of Palmyra arch in London] “should have been more respectful for the blood of Syrians”. “If they were really pushing on awareness for the importance of Syrian heritage as a universal priority, they should have first helped stop ISIS atrocities against innocent people all over Syria.” 

“Well, it’s true, Palmyra and many other historic areas have been flattened,” he said. “But, why do we forget those innocent women and children smashed under the killing machine of Assad’s army forces and radical groups?”.

ISIS took over Palmyra after fierce battles with Syrian army forces in May 2015. 

Noteworthy, the Islamic State destroyed a number of archaeological sites in Iraq and Syria, as well as several religious shrines, castles and monasteries. 

In March 2016, the pro-regime forces were able to impose full control over Palmyra downtown after ISIS extremists retreated towards the northern villages of Palmyra and its eastern outskirts. The group’s leadership ordered its militants to withdraw towards its main bastion of Raqqa, northeastern Syria. 

Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi 

Source: ARA News

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