Several weeks to repair infrastructure in Palmyra: Officials

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Damascus, April 2 (IANS) Architecture and archaeological sites have sustained severe damage due to the attacks by Islamic State terrorists in the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria.

Homs Governor Talal Al-Barazi said that services, facilities and infrastructure have sustained severe damage and restoring the services may take several weeks, SANA reported.

The repair work will start next week in order to help displaced people return home, Al-Barazi said during a tour to examine the losses and damage in Palmyra, accompanied by the directors of services establishments in Homs.

Al-Barazi inspected the telephone centre, the electricity grid and water network and visited the national museum in the city whose contents and several other historical monuments like the Arch of Triumph and Temple of Bel were destroyed by the IS militants last year.

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He said repairs will start as soon as the military engineering units complete defusing and dismantling explosive devices and mines planted almost all over the city, pointing out that several non-governmental international organisations have expressed their readiness to take part in restoring the ruins of Palmyra.

Director of Homs Department of Archaeology Hussam Hamish said the examination of the museum’s contents showed the possibility that some of the damaged artifacts can be restored including the Lion of Al-Lat.

The Arch of Triumph, which was blown up by the IS, can be worked on as well, said Hamish, adding that the Temple of Bel needs expert examination since its main structure was completely demolished.

Director of Homs Electricity Company Musleh al-Hassan said the electricitu grid has been severely damaged and transfer plants stolen, adding that the damage exceeds 80 percent.

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Director of Homs Telecommunications Directorate Kanaan Jouda said that it was possible to soon begin operating the Palmyra telephone centre which has been vandalised by the militants.

Also on Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon appreciating his welcoming of the re-taking of Palmyra city from the IS.

Assad called in his letter for the UN organisations and agencies to support the Syrian government in the restoration of Palmyra as it was a cultural icon classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

This could be the most appropriate moment to accelerate the collective war against terrorism, said Assad, renewing Syria’s readiness to cooperate with all sincere efforts aimed at combating terrorism.

On February 27, the Syrian army regained control over the ancient city of Palmyra from the IS.

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