Syrian government forces, helped by Russian airstrikes, retook Palmyra from the Islamic State on March 27, and experts are now assessing damage to the city’s ancient monuments and artifacts. The Islamic State destroyed many archaeological sites as it expanded across Iraq and Syria, looting some for profit and damaging others to gain attention.

The Islamic State has said that the historical objects and sites it destroyed were heresy to its ideology, which is rooted in Wahhabism. In Palmyra, for example, the group blew up two historic tombs, one of a Shiite saint and another of a Sufi scholar, because it considers them to be forms of idolatry.

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