ISIS militants have blown up the Arch of Triumph in the ancient city of Palmyra, Syrian officials and local sources say.
The Arch of Triumph was “pulverized” by the ISIS fighters who control the city, a Palmyra activist told AFP.
The monument is thought to have been built about 2,000 years ago.
ISIS has already destroyed two ancient temples at the site, described by UNESCO as one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world.
“The Arch of Triumph was pulverized. ISIS has destroyed it,” Mohammad Hassan al-Homsi, an activist from Palmyra told AFP on October 5.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group monitoring the conflict, said sources on the ground had confirmed the destruction.
Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim also confirmed the news, and told Reuters news agency that if ISIS remains in control of Palmyra, “the city is doomed”.
UNESCO’s director general Irina Bokova has said the destruction constitutes a “war crime” and called on the international community to stand united against IS efforts to “deprive the Syrian people of its knowledge, its identity and history”.
ISIS believes shrines or statues represent idolatry, and should be destroyed.
In August, ISIS destroyed the ancient Temple of Baalshamin – one of the city’s best-known buildings built nearly 2,000 years ago.
The group has also published photos of militants destroying what it said were artifacts looted at Palmyra.
ISIS militants captured the historic site from Syrian government troops in May, amid a series of setbacks for forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
Syria’s conflict, which began in 2011, has left more than 250,000 dead and about half the country’s population displaced.
A $1 billion project to build a replica of the Taj Mahal has been unveiled in the Gulf emirate of Dubai.
The Taj Arabia complex would be much bigger than the original monument to love and include a 300-room hotel, shops and commercial buildings, developer Arun Mehra said.
It would be ready by 2014 and be known as the “New City of Love”, he said.
The complex will also house other structures such as the Eiffel Tower, Pyramids and the Great Wall of China.
The Taj Mahal, which is situated in the northern Indian town of Agra, is a Unesco World Heritage site.
It was completed more than 350 years ago by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan as a shrine for his wife Mumtaz and took more than 20 years to build.
The white marble mausoleum, situated on the banks of the river Yamuna, is sometimes known as a teardrop on the cheek of time.
The Taj Arabia complex will be built around the Taj Mahal which is a “symbol of love and will include various facilities to encapsulate the beauty of life, love and romance mixed with the long established Mughal architecture”, Arun Mehra, who is the chairman of Link Global Group, told the Press Trust of India.
The developers say they hope that the Taj Arabia will become a new wedding destination and attract couples to it.
An earlier plan to build the complex was shelved when the company was hit by the global economic downturn.
Firefighting teams in Spain’s Canary Islands are struggling anew to contain forest fires said to have forced some 4,700 people to leave their homes.
On the island of Tenerife, the blaze has cut road links and power lines.
On the neighboring island of La Gomera officials say the fire has destroyed part of a nature reserve with “incalculable ecological value”.
Spain has been hard hit by forest fires after its driest winter in 70 years.
Blazes are also raging in the mainland region of Galicia.
Firefighting teams in Spain’s Canary Islands are struggling anew to contain forest fires said to have forced some 4,700 people to leave their homes
Fires first erupted on La Gomera a week ago, but by Monday the blaze was thought to be under control and aircraft used to help put out the flames had even been sent elsewhere, regional official Nancy Melo told the Associated Press news agency.
But on Friday the islands’ government said the fire had now intensified, and a fresh blaze had begun on Tenerife.
About 2,500 people have been evacuated on La Gomera, along with some 2,200 people on Tenerife, the Agence France-Presse news agency quoted the regional government as saying.
On La Gomera, the flames have devoured some 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) of land, AFP said.
That includes a tenth of the Garajonay nature reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site, some of which is believed to have been in existence for millions of years. Officials have already said it will take at least three decades for the burned areas of the reserve to recover.
Firefighters battling the blazes were up against “high temperatures, low humidity and wind” fanning the flames, regional economy minister Javier Gonzalez Ortiz was quoted as saying.
The dry winter has been followed by a scorching heatwave.
On the mainland, villages have been evacuated in the Galician province of Ourense as more forest fires rage out of control.
Australia announces that it will create the world’s largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit.
The reserves will cover 3.1 million sq km of ocean, including the Coral Sea.
Restrictions will be placed on fishing and oil and gas exploration in the protected zone covering more than a third of Australia’s waters.
Environment Minister Tony Burke, who made the announcement, will attend the earth summit in Brazil next week with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
“It’s time for the world to turn a corner on protection of our oceans,” Tony Burke said.
“And Australia today is leading that next step.”
Australia announces that it will create the world's largest network of marine parks ahead of the Rio+20 Earth Summit
Australia has timed its announcement to coincide with the run-up to the Rio+20 Earth Summit – a global gathering of leaders from more than 130 nations to discuss protecting key parts of the environment, including the ocean.
The plans, which have been years in the making, will proceed after a final consultation process.
Last year, the Australian government announced plans to protect the marine life in the Coral Sea – an area of nearly 1 million sq km.
The sea – off the Queensland coast in northeastern Australia – is home to sharks and tuna, isolated tropical reefs and deep sea canyons. It is also the resting place of three US navy ships sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942.
The network of marine reserve will also include the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The plan will see the numbers of marine reserves off the Australian coast increased from 27 to 60.
“What we’ve done is effectively create a national parks estate in the ocean,” Tony Burke told Australian media.
However, activists and environmental protection groups are likely to be less than satisfied with the plans, having called for a complete ban on commercial fishing in the Coral Sea.
The fishing industry is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation, reports say.
Some have also noted that oil and gas exploration continue to be allowed near some protected areas, particularly off Western Australia.
The Australian Conservation Foundation said that although the plan didn’t go as far as they would like, it was a major achievement in terms of ocean conservation.
Currently the world’s largest marine reserve is a 545,000-sq-km area established by the UK around the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean.