Ancient site: Islamic State militants overran the famed archaeological site at Palmyra, just hours after seizing the central Syrian town
Daily Mail - Islamic State militants have executed at least 400 mostly women and children in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra.
Eye-witnesses have reported the streets are strewn with bodies – the latest victims of the Islamic State's unrelenting savagery - on the same day photographs of captured Syrian soldiers have emerged.
It follows the killing of nearly 300 pro-government troops two days after they captured the city, now symbolised by a black ISIS flag flying above an ancient citadel.
ISIS has also strengthened its position in neighbouring Iraq with Jihadi fighters killing more than 500 people when they captured the city of Ramadi, last week.
Syrian state television announced the most recent massacre, quoting residents inside the city, which is known as Tadmur in Arabic.
'The terrorists have killed more than 400 people.. and mutilated their bodies, under the pretext that they cooperated with the government and did not follow orders,' Syria's state news agency said.
Archaeological jewel: The city is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jihadi fighters have been stalking homes and shops looking for survivors, using loudspeakers to warn residents not to shelter any troops
It added that dozens of those killed were state employees, including the head of nursing department at the hospital and all her family members.
Harrowing pictures have also emerged of Syrian army troops captured during the fierce fighting as the city fell. The 20 soldiers, in military clothing, look disheveled as they kneel before cameras.
Officials say the Syrian army is deploying troops in areas near to the ancient town in apparent preparation for a counter-attack to retake the city from the Islamic State group.
The city was mentioned in the annals of the Assyrian kings and might be mentioned in the Hebrew Bible.
Roman emperor Aurelian defeated Palmyra in 272, and destroyed it in 273 after a failed second rebellion. Palmyra became a minor city under the rule of the Byzantines, the Muslims and their vassals. After being destroyed by the Timurids (Sunni Muslims) in 1400, Palmyra remained a small village under the rule of the Ottomans until 1918, then the Syrian kingdom, followed by the French mandate.
The lost Jewish treasures of Palmyra
During Palmyra’s height during the Roman era, the city became home to a substantial Jewish community, as testified in Jewish texts. It’s clear that there was a serious Jewish community. According to the Talmud some of the locals converted to Judaism. But most significantly, etched into the doorway of a house in central Palmyra, northeast of its main colonnaded street, were the four opening lines of the Shema, one of the central Jewish prayers, verses from the book of Deuteronomy. Scholars have debated whether it was an entryway to a synagogue, but now they lean toward it having been a private home.
Evidence of Jewish inhabitation of Palmyra tapers off after the 4th century, Vainstub said, when the re-inhabited city was a shadow of its former glory. Centuries later, after the Muslim conquest, Palmyra began its slow decline into obscurity.
In 1400, Turkic Muslim conqueror Tamerlane sacked the city and razed it, effectively ending centuries of Jewish inhabitance in Palmyra.
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