The Northern Territory news Fri 22 May 2015
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14 WORLD FRIDAY MAY 22 2015 NTNE01Z01MA - V1V1 - TELE01Z01MA The historic city of Palmyra, and (below) Syrian soldiers have fled the area. Pictures: AFP HOPE LIES IN RUINS ISLAMIC State extremists yesterday captured the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra after government defense lines collapsed, a stunning triumph for the group only days after it captured the strategic city of Ramadi in Iraq. It was unclear how close to Palmyras famous archaeological sites the militants were. The ruins at Palmyra are one of the worlds most renowned historic sites and there are fears the extremists will destroy them as they have major archaeological sites in Iraq. The UNESCO world heritage site is famous for its 2000-year-old towering Roman-era colonnades and other priceless artifacts. Before the war thousands of tourists a year visited the remote desert outpost, a cherished landmark referred to by Syrians as the Bride of the Desert. The fall of the town to IS after a week of fighting was an enormous loss to the government, not only because of its cultural significance, but because it opens the way for the extremists to advance to key government-held areas, including Damascus and the Syrian coast to the south and southwest, as well as the contested eastern city of Deir elZour to the east. It is also near important gas and oil fields. I am terrified, said Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syrias director-general of antiquities and museums. This is a PR battle for (IS) and they will insist on scoring victory against civilisation by destroying the ancient ruins. The fall of Palmyra just days after IS fighters seized the strategic Iraqi city of Ramadi showed the extremists ability to advance on multiple fronts at opposite ends of a sprawling battlefield that spans the two countries and erased any sense that recent IS losses in Tikrit and elsewhere had dealt a major blow to the militants. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported government forces had collapsed in the face of IS attacks and withdrew from the town late yesterday. Beibares Tellawi, an activist in Homs province, also confirmed IS was in control of the town. Syrian state TV acknowledged that pro-government forces had withdrawn from Palmyra, and the IS-affiliated Aaamaq News Agency reported the town was under the complete control of the Islamic State fighters. IS fighters had also seized control of the Jazl oil field in the Homs countryside. Earlier yesterday Homs governor Talal Barazzi said IS militants had infiltrated overnight into some districts in the northern part of Palmyra and were engaged in fierce gun battles with government forces. He said at least 19 people had died, including seven civilians and 12 from the progovernment militia known as the National Defence Forces. Mr Abdulkarim said workers were able to save hundreds of statues and masterpieces from Palmyra that were transported to safe houses in Damascus. But how do you save colonnades? How do you save temples and cemeteries? he asked. DAMASCUS Fears IS will destroy 2000-year-old heritage sites MACCAS HOMELESS BAN A TEENAGER says she was stopped from buying a homeless man a meal at McDonalds due to a new policy at the fast food chain. Charlotte Farrow, 19, visited a Mcdonalds restaurant in Manchester when she decided to buy an elderly homeless man a meal. We queued up and the homeless guy tried to get some money out before I told him I was paying. Then the supervisor said We dont serve homeless people. They said it was a new policy. McDonalds apologised for the incident and said the policy was incorrectly communicated by staff. LONDON Idlib Hama Homs Damascus LEBANON JORDAN Palmyra SYRIA TURKEY Raqqa M i d d l e E a s t DOCUMENTS seized from Osama bin Ladens secret compound and declassified by the US shed new light on the mindset of the al-Qaeda leader. During his years in hiding, bin Laden urged followers to concentrate on attacking Americans and wrote bittersweet letters to one of his wives and children, according to the documents released by US intelligence officials. The documents were found by US Navy SEALs on May 2, 2011, when they descended on bin Ladens hideout in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad and shot him dead. The seized documents include a fillin-the-blanks job application for terrorist candidates that ranges from typical questions about education and hobbies to Do you wish to execute a suicide operation?. The 103 papers and videos add new texture to the picture of the mastermind of the September 11 US terror attacks, much of it in his own words. In one letter he urges a deputy to inform our brothers they must keep their focus on fighting Americans. Their job is to uproot the obnoxious tree by concentrating on its American trunk. In another, bin Laden mocks president George W Bushs war on terror, saying it had not achieved stability in Iraq or Afghanistan, and questioning why American troops were searching for the lost phantom weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Bin Laden kill raid letters voice from grave WASHINGTON Osama bin Laden. Jewel of the Middle East Palmyra is famous for its 2000-year-old towering Roman-era colonnades. In the third century BC it became a hub of trade between east and west with caravans coming along the silk road from China, the Persian Gulf, Egypt, India and Rome. The city was first excavated in 1929. Before the war, thousands of tourists a year visited the remote desert outpost, which is also known as the Bride of the Desert.
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