Islamic State militants have blown up the ancient temple of Baal Shamin in the Syrian city of Palmyra, the latest in a series of cultural relics to be destroyed by the jihadist group.

Palmyra was seized from government forces in May, fuelling fears the IS extremists might destroy its priceless heritage, as it has done in other parts of Syria and Iraq.

“Da’ish placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baal Shamin today and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple,” Syria’s antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said.

“The cella (inner area of the temple) was destroyed and the columns around collapsed.” The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group that monitors the country’s civil war, confirmed the destruction of the temple.

Baal Shamin was built in 17AD, and was expanded under the reign of Roman emperor Hadrian in 130AD.