Kabul, April 9 (IANS) Hundreds of civilians on Saturday were transported back to the ancient city of Palmyra, following its recapture by the military.
Ten buses carrying civilians, including women and children, headed to Palmyra, as part of the government’s efforts to return the displaced people to their homes in the city, which was taken by the Islamic State (IS) terror group last May and liberated by the Syrian army and allied fighters last month, a government source told Xinhua news agency.
Saturday’s batch is the second to enter Palmyra, as nearly 400 civilians returned last Thursday, the source said.
“Today’s number is higher than that of Thursday. We have got hundreds of people heading back to their homes in Palmyra,” the source added.
Palmyra, which contains 2,000-year-old monuments and UNESCO world heritage, constitutes of the ancient part of the city and a residential one.
Following the Syrian army’s recapture of the city late last month, the residential city was empty, except from the IS booby-traps and roadside bombs.
The Syrian army with the help of Russian sappers managed to dismantle hundreds of bombs to pave the way for the return of the civilians.
Those who are now being taken back to their homes are residents who had managed to flee the city ahead of the IS attack last May, as the rest were taken by the IS when the Syrian army approached to reclaim the city on March 27.
Since recapturing it last May, the IS destroyed important monuments in Palmyra
They destroyed the Temple of Bel, which was dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Bel, who was worshipped at Palmyra in triad with the lunar god Aglibol and the sun god Yarhibol, formed the centre of religious life in Palmyra and was inaugurated in 32 AD.
Now, there is nothing left of the temple except its gate, standing still to tell the generations that there was a temple called Bel in the place.
Aside from Bel, another temple in Palmyra, Baalshamin, was destroyed, nothing left of it.
Baalshamin, whose earliest phase dates to the late 2nd century, was one of the most complete ancient structures in Palmyra. In 1980, the UNESCO designated the temple as a World Heritage Site.
The IS destroyed Baalshamin on August 23, 2015.
On May 23, 2015, the IS militants partially damaged the Lion of al-Lat and other statues.
The militants also destroyed three of the best preserved tower tombs including the Tower of Elahbel and the Arch of Triumph.
Syrian archeology officials stressed that the work will start soon for putting projects for rebuilding the bombed out sites in Palmyra with the help of international organisations, such as the UNESCO.