Russia Bombs IS Positions in Palmyra

Russia Bombs IS Positions in PalmyraRussia Bombs IS Positions in Palmyra

Russia says its warplanes have bombed Islamic State positions around the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

A fortification, an underground bunker and anti-aircraft guns were destroyed in strikes by Su-25 jets, according to a defense ministry statement.

Activists said the airstrikes targeted the area around a reconstructed 13th-century castle perched on a hilltop to the west of Palmyra’s Roman-era ruins.

The activists added it was difficult to assess the extent of the damage, BBC reported.

IS militants have destroyed two 2,000-year-old temples, an arch and funerary towers since the seize of Palmyra in May. The extremist group believes that such structures are idolatrous. The UN cultural agency, UNESCO, has condemned the destruction as a war crime.

A local activist told AP by telephone that there had been eight strikes around the area of the castle on Monday, sending smoke and dust rising above the hill.

Palmyra’s castle, known as Qalaat Shirkuh or Qalaat Ibn Maan, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site and sits on a hilltop about 150 meters above the main ruins.

It was long attributed to a 17th-century Lebanese Maanite emir, but archeologists say the original fortress was constructed around 1230 by the Homs emir, al-Mujahid Assad al-Din Shirkuh II.