Syrian government forces backed by Russian airstrikes recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra from Islamic militants Sunday. In it are the monumental ruins of a great city at the crossroads of Roman, Greek and Persian civilizations from the first to the second centuries.
The UNESCO world heritage site had been held by IS since last May. During that time, the militants looted graves, plundered antiquities, and dynamited shrines and temples in what the United Nations has called a war crime.
Despite massive destruction, photographs and field reports show that much remains intact, according to the Syrian Antiquities and Museums Directorate, which is prepared to restore the extensive damage.
"We have huge capabilities and expertise in the general directorate of antiquities and museums," said Mamoun Abdulkarim, who heads the directorate. "We have already executed tens of restorations works in Palmyra. We have the experience to accomplish this."
Abdulkarim believes the city can be rebuilt within five years.
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