Palmyra's ancient temple of Baalshamin in Syria

Islamic State militants have destroyed Palmyra’s ancient temple of Baalshamin, Syrian officials and activists say.

Syria’s head of antiquities was quoted as saying the temple was blown up on Sunday. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that it happened one month ago.

IS took control of Palmyra in May, sparking fears the group might demolish the UNESCO World Heritage site. IS “placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baalshamin today and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple,” Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told AFP news agency.

Residents who had fled from Palmyra also said IS had planted explosives at the temple, although they had done it about one month ago, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Palmyra is famed for its well-preserved Greco-Roman ruins. The BBC World Service arts correspondent Vincent Dowd says the temple built nearly 2,000 years ago was primarily a Roman era artefact. It was dedicated to the Phoenician god of storms and fertilizing rains. (BBC)