Brussels & Palmyra

There were bomb explosions at a metro station and the airport in Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Over 30 people were killed and more were wounded. A group called the Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the explosions. The Belgian police are trying to find the people involved in the attacks.

The IS  has taken over parts of Syria and Iraq. One of the aims of the group is to establish a state for Muslim people. The group’s leader is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (image). The IS is powerful and well-funded. The group is strict, harsh, and brutal. The IS has killed many people, including many Muslims who don’t agree with its philosophy. Over the last one month, the group has claimed to have staged attacks in Iraq and Turkey as well.

Just this week, the Syrian army took back the ancient city of Palmyra (image) from the IS. Palmyra was built on an oasis. It was used as a stopping place for people crossing the Syrian desert. Palmyra flourished around 2,000 years ago as it became an important city on trade routes linking the east to the west. The IS took over Palmyra in May last year. The group destroyed some of the ancient temples causing an outrage in the world.

There has been a civil war going on in Syria since 2011. Syrians want their president, Bashar al-Assad, to step down, and rebel groups have been fighting Assad’s troops for 5 years. In 2014, things got more complicated with the IS taking over parts of Syria. The IS has been fighting the rebel groups and Assad’s government.

The ruins of Palmyra were damaged even before the IS took over last year. Fighting between the Syrian troops and the rebel groups in the area had already created many bullet holes in the walls of the ancient structures.

Some of Syria’s cities are considered to be very old. Its capital, Damascus, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world – over four thousand years old.

Here is drone footage of Palmyra after the Syrian troops took back the area from the IS.

Did you know?

It is disputed, but many believe that the Belgians invented french fries.

Did you know?

The comic book series “The Adventures of Tintin” was created by the Belgian artist Georges Remi (pen name “Hergé”).

Image Credits: U.S Army for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s image, Bernard Gagnon for Palmyra’s image
Sources: http://whc.unesco.org, usatoday.com, BBC, http://theplate.nationalgeographic.com, http://en.tintin.com