Saturday, 7 January 2017


By Stijn Mitzer and Joost Oliemans


The ancient city of Palmyra has become a symbol in the world's fight against the Islamic State. It represents one of the few places where every (non-IS) party agrees on the ultimate fate of the city and its archaeological ruins, this in sharp contrast to other cities and locations elsewhere in Syria and Iraq. Indeed, Palmyra holds a special place in the hearts of many, and preserving this symbol of civilisation is not only in the interest of Syrians, but for mankind in general. Despite its cultural significance, the ancient ruins are a mere collection of bricks in the face of civilian casualties during the course of the Civil War, which are thought to range in the hundreds of thousands. The regime's decision to prioritise the ruins of Palmyra (Tadmur) over strategic targets in March 2016 would ultimately result in failure, losing control over Tadmur for the second time on the 11th of December 2016.