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Syrian activists say Islamic State extremists, after seizing Palmyra, now control ancient site

  • FILE - This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria.  Islamic State militants seized parts of the ancient town of Palmyra in central Syria on Wednesday after fierce clashes with government troops, renewing fears the extremist group would destroy the priceless archaeological site if it reaches the ruins. (SANA via AP, File)

    FILE - This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. Islamic State militants seized parts of the ancient town of Palmyra in central Syria on Wednesday after fierce clashes with government troops, renewing fears the extremist group would destroy the priceless archaeological site if it reaches the ruins. (SANA via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria.  Islamic State militants seized parts of the ancient town of Palmyra in central Syria on Wednesday after fierce clashes with government troops, renewing fears the extremist group would destroy the priceless archaeological site if it reaches the ruins. (SANA via AP, File)

    FILE - This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. Islamic State militants seized parts of the ancient town of Palmyra in central Syria on Wednesday after fierce clashes with government troops, renewing fears the extremist group would destroy the priceless archaeological site if it reaches the ruins. (SANA via AP, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • This picture released on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 on the website of Islamic State militants, shows black columns of smoke rising through the air during a battle between Islamic State militants and the Syrian government forces on a road between Homs and Palmyra, Syria. Islamic State militants overran the famed archaeological site at Palmyra early on Thursday, just hours after seizing the central Syrian town, activists and officials said, raising concerns the extremists might destroy some of the priceless ruins as they have done in neighboring Iraq. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)

    This picture released on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 on the website of Islamic State militants, shows black columns of smoke rising through the air during a battle between Islamic State militants and the Syrian government forces on a road between Homs and Palmyra, Syria. Islamic State militants overran the famed archaeological site at Palmyra early on Thursday, just hours after seizing the central Syrian town, activists and officials said, raising concerns the extremists might destroy some of the priceless ruins as they have done in neighboring Iraq. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Syrian activists say the Islamic State militants, after seizing the ancient town of Palmyra in central Syria, are now also in full control of its famed archaeological site.

Rami Abdurrahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the extremists overrun the site, just to the southwest of Palmyra, shortly after midnight Wednesday.

An activist in the central province of Homs who goes by the name of Bebars al-Talawy also says that IS now controls the ruins at Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site famous for its 2,000-year-old towering Roman-era colonnades and other ruins and priceless artifacts.

Both activists said Thursday that IS has not damaged the ruins so far. There are fears the extremists would destroy the ruins as they did major archaeological sites in Iraq.