Khaled al-Asaad the well respected Archaeologist who worked to preserve the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria for over 40 years has been beheaded by Islamic State (IS) militants.
Mr al-Asaad, who wrote more than 20 books on Palmyra and the Silk Road had been reportedly held as a hostage for a month by the terrorist organisation, that seized the Unesco World Heritage site in May. The 81-year-old’s family informed the press that he had been murdered. Mr Asaad was “one of the most important pioneers in Syrian archaeology in the 20th Century”,Syria’s director of antiquities Maamoun Abdul Karim; stated. IS militants tortured him in an attempt to extract information about where some of Palmyra’s treasures had been hidden. IS is known to be operating an illicit business in stolen antiquities to fund their programme of terror.
Mr Asaad spent most of his life working to promote and protect Palmyra. He was in charge of the site for four decades until 2003, when he retired. He then worked as an expert with the antiquities and museums department.
IS has already destroyed a number of ancient sites in Iraq, and Syria. It is now thought that they will destroy Palmyra, one of the most important archaeological sites in the Middle East.
Mr Asaad was beheaded on Tuesday in a square outside the museum in the modern town next to the ruins, also known as Tadmur. His body was then hung from one of the Graeco-Roman columns.