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Palmyra’s ruins await restoration 5 years after destruction

By Rania Zanoun

Damascus, Aug 23 (efe-epa).- Five years after the Islamic State terror organization destroyed the first temple in Syria’s Palmyra, the Greco-Roman ruins, which are thousands of years old, await restoration amid an ever-imminent threat of terror.

“No significant restoration operations have been carried out in the ancient city of Palmyra (…) since its liberation in 2016 due to the lack of financial and logistical resources and the required experience,” director general of Syria’s Antiquities and Museums Mahmoud Hammoud told Efe.

Around 3,500 archeological pieces have been lost from the Palmyra museum, he added.

Mamun Abdul-Kareem, the former general director of Syria’s Antiquities and Museums (2012-2017), told Efe that “the fall of Palmyra, one of the World Heritage sites, had a great impact on the Syrian archaeological heritage.”

 “Following the entry of the terrorist group known as IS into the city and its occupation, the fate of this historic city has been diverted into the unknown,” he added.

Having seized the city in May 2015, the extremists began to destroy temples, starting with Baalshamin, on 23 August of that year, followed by the main building of the Bel temple a week later.

The IS members destroyed different parts of Palmyra’s major, 2,000-year-old building dedicated to the supreme deity Babylon. The temple’s roof, now in ruins, was originally covered with gold

Palmyra was one of the most important cultural centers during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD and a meeting point for the caravans on the Silk Road, which crossed the desert of central Syria.

It was considered a masterpiece of Roman architecture and urban planning for the columns of its famous main street and for its temples, including that of Baal.

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