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Many of Palmyra ancient ruins damaged by IS can be restored — Hermitage museum chief

March 28, 18:46 UTC+3 ST PETERSBURG
"The destruction is huge, but not absolute. The main symbol of Palmyra, its ancient columns in the desert, can be restored," Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Russian Hermitage Museum says
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© Valeriy Sharifulin/TASS

ST PETERSBURG, March 28. /TASS/. The ancient ruins of the Syrian city of Palmyra destroyed by the Islamic State (IS) terrorists can be restored, Mikhail Piotrovsky, director of the Russian Hermitage Museum, said on Monday.

"Palmyra has been destroyed many times, and the last destruction was the most barbaric one," Piotrovsky said. "The destruction is huge, but not absolute. The main symbol of Palmyra, its ancient columns in the desert, can be restored."

"We hope the stolen museum showpieces will be returned, as they are easy to find because of the existing descriptions," Piotrovsky said. "The major part was moved to Damascus and other cities."

Palmyra, located in the Syrian Desert between Damascus and the Euphrates, was one of the richest cities of antiquity. Tradition suggests that biblical King Solomon founded the city.

UNESCO declared the remains of its once majestic temples and buildings world cultural heritage sites in 1980.

IS militants who seized Palmyra last May destroyed several most ancient monuments, including the 2,000-year old statue of the Lion of al-Lat, the temple of Baal Shamin built during the Roman rule in the 1st century AD, and the temple of Bel, the largest edifice on the compound that was erected during the reign of Emperor Tiberius in 32 AD.

The terrorists also beheaded the 80-year-old Dr. Haled al-Asaad, one of the most famous Syrian archeologists who devoted his whole life to the studies of Palmyra heritage.

On March 27, the Syrian army took back the control over Palmyra.

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