Boris Johnson: Isis militants 'would blow up the Pyramids'

Mayor of London calls for intervention to save historic site of Palmyra in Syria, warning that if left unchecked Islamic militants could eventually take over Egypt.

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The Independent Online

Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has warned that if left unchecked Isis militants could take over Egypt and attempt to blow up the pyramids.

In his column in The Daily Telegraph on Monday, Johnson warned that the "loonies" could take over Egypt "some time in the next decades".

"Presumably their ideology would demand the dynamiting of the Pyramids," he wrote.

Johnson was calling for international intervention to prevent the destruction of ancient artifacts and buildings in the historic Syrian city of Palmyra, parts of which were seized by ISIS fighters last week.

Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, was one of the most important cities of the ancient world, a staging post on the trade route linking the Roman Empire with Persia, India and China. It is known for its  Roman-era colonnades and unique architectural ruins.

Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage site (Getty)

On Sunday Syrian officials said that ISIS forces had been pushed back from Palmyra, although they remain in control of parts of the surrounding area.

The area surrounding Palmyra is arguably of more significance to ISIS as it contains important oil and gas installations.

But the group has demonstrated destroyed ancient artifacts in the past. In Iraq ISIS fighters used bulldozers to destroy the ancient Assyrian archaeological site of Nimrud.

In his column Johnson acknowledges that calling for action over archaeological treasures when "we in the West have collectively decided to do very little to help hundreds of thousands of Syrian human beings" is difficult to justify.

But he says: "If we don’t make a stand now, in the face of this barbarism, when will we stick up for our common human heritage?"

Johnson's comments come as ISIS fighters in Iraq captured the city of Ramadi in Anbar province, following the withdrawal of Iraqi troops from area.