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Russian reporters visit rescued ancient Christian pilgrimage town in Syria

July 19, 12:04 UTC+3 AL-RESAFA

The risk of the city being shelled still exists, as the line of engagement between the Syrian army and militants is just 25 kilometers away

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Ruins of Resafa

Ruins of Resafa

© wikimedia.org/Marina Milella

AL-RESAFA /Syria/, July 19. /TASS/. Syrian authorities invited Russian journalists on Wednesday to visit an ancient monument, the city of Resafa recaptured from terrorists recently. Scholars say its historical value is equal to the world-famous Palmyra.

"Just two weeks ago, Resafa was controlled by militants of the Islamic State [IS, terror group, outlawed in Russia - TASS]. The Syrian government’s army supported by Russian aircraft has returned to the world this ancient city, which is more than 1,500 years old," said Abdullah Vitar, a member of the local administration.

He noted that the retreating gunmen planted mines in the city’s most historical sites.

"Mines have been planted in the city’s gate, the citadel, the Cathedral of St. Sergius, the basilica and antique water tanks, the fortress walls and its towers," he lamented.

Vitar recalled that before the war, al-Resafa was the pilgrimage center in Syria’s Raqqa province visited by tens of thousands of believers. According to legend, it was here that Roman soldier Sergius, a Christian venerated as a saint by the Orthodox and Catholic churches, was executed.

The risk of the city being shelled still exists, as the line of engagement between the Syrian army and militants is just 25 kilometers away. However, the historian remained confident that archeologists and scholars will be able to visit the area in the coming winter months. Sappers will begin demining the Christian sanctuaries in the near future.

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