There had been earlier reports of an explosion at the Temple of Bel in Palmyra, Syria. Satellite imagery is now confirming that the main temple in the ancient city is destroyed.
The temple was being held by militants from the Islamic State group.
“Unfortunately, the images we acquired do show that the main building of the temple had been destroyed,” Einar Bjorgo, a spokesperson from the United Nations satellite program told the BBC.
The basic structure of the temple was believed to be intact, but now Syria’s antiquities chief says almost nothing remains.
IS has previously targeted historical sites in Iraq and Syria, the looting and sale of antiquities is also one of the group’s main sources of funding.
There has been fierce fighting around Palmyra in recent months as the Syrian government forces have worked to drive IS out.
The Temple of Bel was World Heritage listed, one of the best preserved parts of the ancient city, and more than 150,000 tourists visited Palmyra (and likely the monumental temple) every year before the war started.
The Temple of Bel was dedicated to the Palmyrene gods. The site boasted 1,000 columns and a formidable necropolis of more than 500 tombs.