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.