2016-03-28 16:26:00

Russia will be definitely involved in Palmyra restoration effort (updated)

Moscow, March 28, Interfax - Russia will be definitely involved in the reconstruction and restoration of ancient Palmyra, Syria destroyed by ISIL fighters, special representative of the president for international cultural cooperation Mikhail Shvydkoi has told Interfax.

"We will definitely get involved in the restoration of Palmyra. The issue has been discussed for a long time," he said on Monday.

Earlier "representatives of the Russian museum community and the Russian commission for UNESCO spoke on the mater," he said.

Shvydkoi said that serious studies will have to be conducted before launching restoration efforts. "At first serious studies will have to be conducted to estimate the scale of losses," he stressed.

Shvydkoi is sure that Russia has a good restoration school.

"We have an excellent school of restoration. If our specialists succeeded in restoring the suburbs of St. Petersburg, they will succeed in restoring Palmyra too," he said.

The high-ranking official is confident that Russia has many experts with a good knowledge of Palmyra. "We have many experts who know Palmyra, for instance, Mikhail Piotrovsky [director of the Hermitage museum] who was engaged in operations in that territory. We have experts from the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts," he said.

Shvydkoi noted that "it will be a joint project under UNESCO auspices."

Palmyra, which is located in an oasis in the Syrian desert, was one of the wealthiest cities in late antiquity. It is a UNESCO world heritage site, featuring impressive structures belonging to the best examples of Ancient Roman architecture.

On May 13, 2015 ISIL launched an offensive on Palmyra arousing grave concern from the world public about the threat to the historical monuments in the city. Before that, ISIL had destroyed ancient monuments in the parts of Iraq it had overtaken.

On June 23, 2015 ISIL militants blasted two ancient Muslim burials, namely, the burial of a descendant of Prophet Mohammed and another one, regarded as a Muslim sanctuary and built over 500 years ago.

Later, they destroyed a famous ancient figure of a lion dating back to the first century A.D.

On August 24, 2015 the militants blasted the ancient Temple of Baalshamin and three burial towers. On October 5, they destroyed the Arch of Triumph of Roman times.

On March 27, 2016 the Syrian army, supported by Russian and Syrian air forces, fully cleared Palmyra of ISIL militants.