(WWLP) – Despite international anti-terror efforts, ISIS continues to make strategic gains in the Middle East. ISIS now controls half of Syria, including a city of priceless archeological treasures.
Historians are calling it a cultural genocide; ISIS has claimed control of Palmyra — a Syrian city not just rich in oil, but rich in history. The militant group has released videos from other regions, showing their attempts to erase history and rewrite it, by destroying museums, statues, and other irreplaceable artifacts. Experts fear the same fate for the 2000-year-old Roman city.
Former US Ambassador Mark Hambley told 22News it’s a psychological attack. “They know the importance of cultural sites to the national community. In our face, saying ‘we can do this because we are the new power that will take over and recreate the Middle East in our image’.”
Hambley admitted the potential loss of these ancient treasures is devastating, but said it’s the human suffering that demands international attention. About half the population of Syria, some 12 million people have been forced from their homes. 250,000 have been killed. In Iraq, 2.5 million have fled to the Kurdish region for safety.
“These are people who want for their children what we want: food on the table, security. Jobs and education. None of that is happening. A whole generation is being wiped out. “
U.S. leaders called the recent geographical losses tactical setbacks. Military analysts told NBC News the current strategy of airstrikes and US advisors isn’t doing enough to combat the terror group.