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Moscow disappointed by Western countries’ position on Palmyra — diplomat

March 30, 2016, 10:55 UTC+3

According to the Russian Foreign Ministry, the delay of reaction from Western capitals on Palmyra’s liberation was no coincidence but part of a systematic approach

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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, March 30. /TASS/. Moscow is disappointed by a stance of the Western countries that have blocked a statement on Syria’s Palmyra at the UN Security Council drafted by the Russian side, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Wednesday.

"We are not so much surprised and disappointed by the position of Western colleagues as puzzled by their true intentions in regard to peaceful settlement in Syria," the diplomat said.

"We thought that the delay of reaction from the Western capitals on Palmyra’s liberation was a coincidence. Now it is evident that this is part of a systematic approach," Zakharova said.

The move shows that the Western states are neither interested in liberating Syria from terrorists nor assisting the peaceful settlement nor in cultural values, she added, stressing that "geopolitical interests are behind all this."

The Russian side plans to submit to the Executive Board of the UN cultural watchdog UNESCO a draft statement on Palmyra calling to restore this monument of global civilization, Zakharova said.

The Syrian army said on Sunday that it liberated the ancient city of Palmyra with support from the Russian air group and special forces, including Russian military advisers.

The city, which is called a "gem" of the Syrian desert, was one of the richest centers of ancient civilization. The Great Silk Road ran through Palmyra, located in an oasis 240 km from Damascus. The extant ruins of the ancient city are included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site list.

Palmyra, an ancient city in Syria’s Homs province some 210 kilometers from Damascus, was seized by gunmen of the Islamic State (a terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) in early summer 2015. The Syrian authorities said back then that Palmyra with its monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world standing at the crossroads of several civilizations, could share the fate of Iraq’s ancient cities of Assur, Nimrud and Hatra that were destroyed by Islamic State militants.

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