Islamic State militants on Sunday blew up the ancient temple of Baal Shamin in the UNESCO-listed Syrian city of Palmyra, an official said, the latest in a series of cultural relics to be destroyed by the jihadist group. “IS placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baal Shamin today and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple,” Syria’s antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told AFP. “The cella (inner area of the temple) was destroyed and the columns around collapsed,” he said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK based monitoring group, confirmed the destruction of the temple. IS, which controls swathes of Syria and neighbouring Iraq, captured Palmyra on May 21, sparking international concern about the fate of the heritage site described by UNESCO as of “outstanding universal value.” Baal Shamin was built in 17AD and it was expanded under the reign of Roman emperor Hadrain in 130AD. Known as the “Pearl of the desert,” Palmyra, which means City of Palms, is a well preserved oasis 210 kilometres northeast of Damascus. Before the arrival of Christianity in the second century, Palmyra worshipped the trinity of the Babylonian god Bel, as well as Yarhibol (the sun) and Aglibol (the moon).