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A walk through the monumental ruins of ancient Palmyra--before Islamic State swept in
A walk through the monumental ruins of ancient Palmyra--before Islamic State swept in

BEIRUT—The guide had tears in his eyes as he stood inside the remains of the majestic temple of Bel, an ancient deity, the edifice’s stately columns gouged with holes as a result of recent shelling. We had the ruins of Palmyra, one of the globe’s awe-inspiring wonders, to ourselves--along with half a dozen plainclothes cops from Syrian intelligence who watched our backs, their pistols and sub machine guns at the ready. “I haven’t been here to the ruins in two years,” said the guide, Salem al-Kayem, a slim, soft-spoken school teacher and father of two, whose emotion was overcoming him. “It will take a long, long time to recover. Tourism is dead....

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