Palmyra was a city in the middle east millenia before the rise of Islam. Their religion, to us, seems a melange of different cultural influences. Al-Lat was a goddess associated with Arabic tribes. The Greeks associated al-Lat with Athena and Aphrodite. Her iconography included a lion often. As in this picture:
The Temple of al-Lat, in Palmyra also had a lion statue, with a gazelle resting between its paws. The interpretation that these beasts together represent the power of the goddess and her compassion seems persuasive to me. Here is a picture of the lion from the Temple of al-Lat in Palmyra. I
do not know if it is a reproduction, or not.
On July 27, 2015, military forces who have destroyed the meaning of Islam, (much like fanatics can call themselves Christian with none to dispute the self-description) destroyed part of the original Lion of al-Lat.