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Expert: IS has badly damaged major Palmyra monument

  • Published at 01:36 pm March 5th, 2017
  • Last updated at 01:43 pm March 5th, 2017
Expert: IS has badly damaged major Palmyra monument
Islamic State militants have severely damaged a major Roman monument in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, an antiquities official said after visiting the site on Saturday. Under heavy Russian air cover, the Syrian army and allied militias drove the jihadist group out of the UNESCO world heritage site on Thursday, two months after it had seized it in a surprise advance. [caption id="attachment_50531" align="aligncenter" width="702"]A man looks towards a Russian helicopter as it flies over ruins in the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki A man looks towards a Russian helicopter as it flies over ruins in the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017 REUTERS[/caption] It was the second time the city had been recaptured from the militants in the course of Syria's six-year war. Antiquities official Wael Hafyan said he had seen serious damage to the Tetrapylon, a square stone platform with matching structures of four columns positioned at each corner. Only four of the 16 columns were still standing. [caption id="attachment_50532" align="aligncenter" width="702"]People gather in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki People gather in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. REUTERS[/caption] "The terrorists detonated it... the damage is extensive," he told Reuters. However, he said some of the fallen columns were not destroyed and could be restored using modern conservation techniques. [caption id="attachment_50534" align="aligncenter" width="702"]Syrian army soldiers carry flags in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki Syrian army soldiers carry flags in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. Photo: REUTERS[/caption] "The terrorists detonated it... the damage is extensive," he told Reuters. However, he said some of the fallen columns were not destroyed and could be restored using modern conservation techniques. There was also harm, but less serious, to the facade of a Roman theatre, where the damage was to a part that was restored, not original, he said. [caption id="attachment_50535" align="aligncenter" width="701"]A Russian helicopter flies over the Temple of Bel in the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki A Russian helicopter flies over the Temple of Bel in the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. Photo: REUTERS[/caption] Hafyan said the militants had caused less destruction during their second occupation of the city than in their first, when they ruined an 1,800-year-old monumental arch and the nearly 2,000-year-old Temple of Baalshamin. [caption id="attachment_50536" align="aligncenter" width="701"]A Syrian army soldier takes a picture of a fellow soldier standing on ruins in the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki A Syrian army soldier takes a picture of a fellow soldier standing on ruins in the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. Photo: REUTERS[/caption] [caption id="attachment_50537" align="aligncenter" width="702"]FILE PHOTO:People visit the ruins of the historic city of Palmyra ahead of a musical event at its amphitheatre, Syria May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki/File Photo FILE PHOTO:People visit the ruins of the historic city of Palmyra ahead of a musical event at its amphitheatre, Syria May 6, 2016. Photo: REUTERS[/caption] "These two places are not in that same danger and the extent of destruction of the first occupation, when the damage was much more savage," Hafyan added. He said it would take some time to make a full technical assessment of the historic sites. [caption id="attachment_50538" align="aligncenter" width="703"]A Russian soldier stands near Syrian musicians as they play their instruments while resting on damage in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki A Russian soldier stands near Syrian musicians as they play their instruments while resting on damage in the amphitheater of the historic city of Palmyra, Syria March 4, 2017. Photo: REUTERS[/caption] Known as the Pearl of the Desert, Palmyra, about 215km north-east of Damascus, was a prosperous city on the ancient Silk Road trading route. The militants have smashed ancient structures in Iraq and Syria they say do not conform to their strict interpretation of Islam.