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Syrian government official says amount of damage done to Palmyra temple unclear after bombing

This Monday, Aug. 31, 2015 satellite image provided by UNITAR-UNOSAT shows damage to the main building of the ancient Temple of Bel in the Palmyra, Syria. The main building has been destroyed, a United Nations agency said. The image was taken a day after a massive explosion was set off near the 2,000-year-old temple in the city occupied by Islamic State militants. (UrtheCast, UNITAR-UNOSAT via AP)

This Monday, Aug. 31, 2015 satellite image provided by UNITAR-UNOSAT shows damage to the main building of the ancient Temple of Bel in the Palmyra, Syria. The main building has been destroyed, a United Nations agency said. The image was taken a day after a massive explosion was set off near the 2,000-year-old temple in the city occupied by Islamic State militants. (UrtheCast, UNITAR-UNOSAT via AP)  (The Associated Press)

A Syrian government official in charge of antiquities says the amount of damage done by an explosion near the ancient Temple of Bel in the militant-controlled city of Palmyra remains unclear.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, the head of the Antiquities and Museums Department in Damascus, said Monday that "undoubtedly" a large explosion took place near the 2,000-year-old temple, which lies in a sprawling Roman-era complex.

An Islamic State operative told The Associated Press over Skype on Monday that the temple had been destroyed, without elaborating. He spoke on condition of anonymity because members of the group are not allowed to speak to journalists.

Activists on Sunday reported the temple sustained extensive damage in the explosion. The extremists have destroyed another smaller temple in the city last week.