ISIS militants have beheaded an 82-year-old archaeologist who had been in charge of overseeing the ancient site at Palmyra in Syria, a government official said Tuesday.
Syrian state antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told Reuters that the family of Khaled Asaad had informed Abdulkarim that Asaad had been beheaded earlier in the day and his body hanged from a column in the town’s main square.
Asaad’s death was also reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The Observatory, which has a network of activists on the ground in Syria, said dozens of people gathered to witness the killing.
Abdulkarim said that Asaad had been held and interrogated by members of the terror group for over a month before his death. The official said that Asaad’s captors had been looking for information about where the town’s treasures had been hidden to save them from ISIS, but they had no success getting the information from the scholar.
ISIS seized Palmyra, whose Roman-era ruins attracted thousands of tourists prior to Syria’s civil war, from government forces in May. In the days and weeks before the city fell, Syrian officials said they had moved hundreds of statues out of concern that they would be destroyed by ISIS fighters.