Satellite images released by the United Nations appeared to confirm the destruction of the famous Temple of Bel, one of the most important structures in the 2,000-year-old archaeological complex at Palmyra, which is now controlled by the jihadists of the Islamic State.

The images released  show the main building and altar of the Temple of Bel, before and after this weekend. It appears that very little of what was once of the world's most intact ancient structures is left.

"We can confirm destruction of the main building of the Temple of Bel as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity," the U.N. training and research agency UNITAR wrote in an e-mail distributed to the international media.

The Islamic State has systematically set about obliterating and plundering Palmyra, an ancient Syrian city whose pre-Islamic shrines and religious monuments are deemed worthy of destruction by the extremist militant group. Last week, images emerged of the militants detonating explosives by the Temple of Baal Shamin, another treasured site within the ruined city.

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