ISIS preps Palmyra classical ruins for demolition

Following the collapse of a short-lived defense by the Syrian Army, the ancient city of Palmyra fell into the hands of ISIS.

The latest: “Islamic State group plants mines and bombs in Palmyra, says monitoring body” – France 24

Of course ISIS wants to blow up Palmyra. It’s the symbol of a very brief empire that started in central Syria, rapidly expanded across the Middle East with little resistance from existing regional powers, was crushingly destroyed 3 years later by Western armies of Rome, and has since been virtually forgotten by the world. What does that sound a lot like? ISIS, in a few years. Sadly, Syria (and the world) will have lost another UNESCO World Heritage site in the meantime…

Palmyra, 2009 pre-war view from Qalaat Ibn Maan, Temple of Bel and colonnaded axis. (Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers via Wikimedia)

Palmyra, 2009 pre-war view from Qalaat Ibn Maan, Temple of Bel and colonnaded axis. (Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers via Wikimedia)

Ancient Syrian city safe from ISIS for now

Two days later, on May 20, 2015, the Army made a hasty retreat and the city fell to ISIS.

State and opposition media both confirm that the Syrian Army has pushed back and blocked an approaching ISIS offensive on the ancient city of Palmyra (pictured below).

The international community was very concerned that the city’s antiquities would be dynamited as ISIS has done in many other areas. The counter-offensive was likely undertaken more over strategic concerns about Palmyra’s position relative to other key regime-held cities than over concern for the heritage sites, however.

The regime and FSA, in western Syria, have both systematically shelled and destroyed at least five of six UNESCO world heritage sites in Syria when they became battlefields. Pal´╗┐myra is one of the six sites and has been subject to looting and some moderate battle damage.

Palmyra, 2009 pre-war view from Qalaat Ibn Maan, Temple of Bel and colonnaded axis. (Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers via Wikimedia)

Palmyra, 2009 pre-war view from Qalaat Ibn Maan, Temple of Bel and colonnaded axis. (Photo Credit: Arian Zwegers via Wikimedia)

October 1, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 101


Topics: UAE and Russia milestones for women in air and space, illegal contraception co-pays in the US, death penalty in Kenya case, Big Ideas in voting and internet technology, Thai government’s food robot. People: Bill, Persephone, Nate. Produced: September 29th, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– The 1st UAE female combat pilot, the 4th female cosmonaut, CVS charging illegal co-pays on contraception, and more
– Big Idea: Could the U.S. use the goal of secure internet voting as a moonshot project to strengthen internet security in general? What interim measures should be taken to make voting easier?
– Why Thailand’s government is trying to build a robot to measure Thai food authenticity

Part 1 – UAE, Russia, US, Kenya:
Part 1 – UAE, Russia, US, Kenya – AFD 101
Part 2 – Big Ideas in Voting Tech:
Part 2 – Big Ideas in Voting Tech – AFD 101
Part 3 – Thai Food:
Part 3 – Thai Food – AFD 101

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

AFD: Russia & UAE: A big week for women in air and space
Gawker: Fox News Host Calls Female Fighter Pilot “Boobs On the Ground” Congresswoman Speier Discovers CVS Illegally Charged 11,000 Women for Contraceptives
AFD: Kenya sentence an urgent reminder of the need for legal abortion

Segment 2

Wikipedia: Electronic voting in Estonia
ThinkProgress: Georgia State Senator Complains That Voting Is Too Convenient For Black People

Segment 3

New York Times: You Call This Thai Food? The Robotic Taster Will Be the Judge
The Globalist: Exporting Japanese Food Culture


RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

11th century Umayyad Mosque minaret felled in Syria war


The 11th-century minaret of a famed mosque that towered over the narrow stone alleyways of Aleppo’s old quarter collapsed Wednesday as rebels and government troops fought pitched battles in the streets around it, depriving the ancient Syrian city of one of its most important landmarks.

President Bashar Assad’s government and the rebels trying to overthrow him traded blame over the destruction to the Umayyad Mosque, a UNESCO world heritage site and centerpiece of Aleppo’s walled Old City.

This was one of the most important surviving sites of the Middle Ages and particularly of the Middle East. It was a historic edifice at the center of one of the greatest Islamic empires in history. People are quoted saying this is comparable in terms of world heritage to blowing up the Taj Mahal or finishing off the Parthenon.

This makes it the fifth (out of six total) UNESCO sites in Syria destroyed or severely damaged during the civil war. The famous Crac des Chevaliers crusader castle has been looted.