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Palmyra’s state is better than expected but it is too early for restoration works — expert

April 18, 2016, 16:58 UTC+3 ST. PETERSBURG

Russian experts have had a glimpse inspection of the ancient town

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© Konstantin Leyfer/TASS

ST. PETERSBURG, April 18 /TASS/. Archaeologists have found Palmyra in a better condition after its liberation from terrorists than initially expected, Timur Karmov from the D.S.Likhachev Russian Scientific Research Institute of Cultural and Natural Heritage, told TASS on Monday.

"It did not look that bad judging from the first assessment. The Islamic State (a terrorist organization banned in Russia) militants destroyed only those things, which they definitely did not like," the archaeologist said.

Karmov, who had visited Palmyra with a team of Russian experts, who examined it, last week, said that the Temple of Bel, the Temple of Baalshamin, several tombs and the Arch of Triumph, the treasured symbol of Palmyra, had been destroyed so badly that they could not even be restored. "If a decision is made to restore the arch, we will have to do that [recreate the arch] by using small fragments," the expert said.

According to the archaeologist, it is too early to talk about any new excavations or restoration works in Palmyra. Russian experts have had a glimpse inspection of the ancient town. "It is even unclear how we can monitor the situation. Entering it permanently would be a reckless decision," Karmov told TASS.

Last week, a group of Russian experts carried out a preliminary examination of destructions caused to Palmyra, which has been under the IS control since 2015. The group is going to submit its report to the secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

British merchants discovered the ruins of Palmyra late in the 18th century. Archaeological excavations have been under way since the 20th century. The UNESCO included Palmyra’s architectural monuments in its World Heritage List in 1980.

Thirty-five thousand people had resided in Palmyra before the Syrian conflict broke out in 2011. Nine thousand people left Palmyra after IS extremists had launched the first attacks back in 2013.

The Syrian government troops, backed by Russian and Syrian warplanes, started an operation to liberate Palmyra on March 13, 2016. The Syrian army entered the historical town on March 24, 2016. The Russian Aerospace Forces provided air support for the Syrian army: the Russian warplanes delivered air strikes at 146 terrorist military targets in the outskirts of Palmyra. The Syrian army regained control of the town on March 27, 2016.

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