Russia set to demine Palmyra

Edited by Nelly T.

On Tuesday President Vladimir Putin, in phone calls with UNESCO’s Director General Irina Bokova and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, acquired sanction to remove landmines from the ancient sites of the Syrian city of Palmyra.

With monuments pre-dating the Muslim prophet Mohammed, the central Syrian city of Palmyra stands proud atop an oasis. The UNESCO World Heritage Site was occupied by the Islamic State group for nearly a year. The city took damage to many of its monuments before the Russian military assisted Syrian State forces in liberating it last week.

Despite having much to do Syria’s Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums remains positive saying in a comment to the Russian state news agency that “more than 80 percent of the antiquities” have survived and are in “satisfactory condition.” The directorate is confident that the destruction dealt to the ancient sites, including the temples of Bel and Baal-Shamin, can be rebuilt within an estimate period of five years.

Giovanni Boccardi, head of UNESCO’s emergency response unit, has acknowledged that Palmyra is not the only city to have ruin wrought down on it and is firm in the belief that “first we need to know the damage” before restoration can start. Boccardi said that the UN cultural organisation has provided 2.7 million euros ($A 4.01 million) of funding for repairs.

Multiple European officials have offered their assistance with the restoration of Palmyra’s ancient sites, including Italy’s Cultural Minister Dario Franceschini. London Mayor Boris Johnson spoke to local media about Britain’s “ineffective” response to the Syria crisis and should aid in the restoration of Palmyra as compensation.

Russia’s prestigious Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg and Russia’s cultural envoy have both joined the call for the restoration of Palmyra.