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Palmyra in Syria. Image source:
  • The IS captured the city in May 2015 and began blowing up some of the major landmarks at the Unesco-listed world heritage site
  • Palmyra dates back 4,000 years but most of the ruins date from the Roman period which began around the 27 BC
  • In August 2015, the IS terrorists beheaded Khaled Asaad, 81, the city’s chief archaeologist

A video was released by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group showed extremists smashing up ancient sculptures and driving a lorry over mummies in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

The IS captured the city in May 2015 and began blowing up some of the major landmarks at the Unesco-listed world heritage site, the Daily Mail reported on Friday, July 8.

The mummies are laid out on the road ready to be destroyed. Image source:

Palmyra dates back 4,000 years but most of the ruins date from the Roman period which began around the 27 BC.

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The IS decimated the famous Arch of Triumph, the Temple of Baalshamin and the Temple of Bel and left mines and booby traps in much of the ruins. The group also used the 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre to conduct public executions.

The huge wheels of a bulldozer crush the ancient mummified bodies. Image source:

They looted the city’s museums and the video showed them vandalising its precious exhibits.

In August 2015, the IS terrorists beheaded Khaled Asaad, 81, the city’s chief archaeologist.

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The IS were finally forced out of the area in March. Russian drone footage, filmed shortly after Palmyra was recaptured, showed some parts of the ruins had escaped destruction.

Many of Palmyra’s temples and tombs were bombed by the IS in what the UN described as a war crime. (IANS)




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By- Salil Gewali

If humanity is hurt, God is hurt.

Religion without compassion might give way to hatred. Compassion with a "self-interest" motive is completely irreligious. But of late, some of the religions have departed from those basic human values. Love and compassion are for only those who follow their "specific" faith. Very sadly, the religions are up as trading commodities in the world of proselytization. Better preachers attract more followers. Of course, no issue if they are not vying for their religious "supremacy". But the ground reality is utterly different. The claim for exclusive supremacy has become the first commandment --- a real bone of contention among the existing religions. In the name of religion, we have polluted our minds. we have corrupted our souls. We have also gone so much astray that God must have now shut his gateway to heaven!

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Taking out time for family has become very difficult as people are pretty busy in daily life and find very little time to spend with their loved ones. Planning a family vacation is an excellent way through which the whole family can step away from their daily life and have fun. You can find many destinations for a family vacation, but there is no place that can beat Aruba.

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Photo by Flickr

Milky Way galaxy as seen from Chitkul Valley

NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has for the first time spotted signs of a planet transiting a star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, opening up a new avenue to search for exoplanets at greater distances than ever before.

The possible exoplanet -- or planets outside of our Solar System -- candidate is located in the spiral galaxy Messier 51 (M51), also called the Whirlpool Galaxy because of its distinctive profile, NASA said in a statement.

Astronomers have, so far, found all other known exoplanets and exoplanet candidates in the Milky Way galaxy, almost all of them less than about 3,000 light-years from Earth.

An exoplanet in M51 would be about 28 million light-years away, meaning it would be thousands of times farther away than those in the Milky Way, NASA said.

"We are trying to open up a whole new arena for finding other worlds by searching for planet candidates at X-ray wavelengths, a strategy that makes it possible to discover them in other galaxies," said Rosanne Di Stefano of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard and Smithsonian (CfA) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who led the study.

The findings are published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The exoplanet candidate was spotted in a binary system called M51-ULS-1, located in M51. This binary system contains a black hole or neutron star orbiting a companion star with a mass about 20 times that of the Sun. The X-ray transit they found using Chandra data lasted about three hours, during which the X-ray emission decreased to zero.

Based on this and other information, the team estimates the exoplanet candidate in M51-ULS-1 would be roughly the size of Saturn and orbit the neutron star or black hole at about twice the distance of Saturn from the Sun.

The team looked for X-ray transits in three galaxies beyond the Milky Way galaxy, using both Chandra and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton. Their search covered 55 systems in M51, 64 systems in Messier 101 (the "Pinwheel" galaxy), and 119 systems in Messier 104 (the "Sombrero" galaxy).

However, more data would be needed to verify the interpretation as an extragalactic exoplanet. One challenge is that the planet candidate's large orbit means it would not cross in front of its binary partner again for about 70 years, thwarting any attempts for a confirming observation for decades, NASA said.

Named in honor of the late Indian-American Nobel laureate, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Chandra X-ray Observatory is the world's most powerful X-ray telescope. It has eight times greater resolution and is able to detect sources more than 20-times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Known to the world as Chandra (which means "moon" or "luminous" in Sanskrit), Chandrasekhar was widely regarded as one of the foremost astrophysicists of the twentieth century. (IANS/JB)

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