For the first time since Syrian forces recaptured the ancient city of Palmyra reporters have been allowed in to document the full extent of the damage caused by ISIL militants.
The Temple of Bel, previously thought to be reduced to rubble, is not beyond repair according to Syria’s antiquities chief.
Any thoughts of restoration are on hold with the entire site being littered with mines. Historian Jamil Al-Quaiiem told reporters, “They destroyed most of the Arc of Triumph. Many of the details are missing, but I think we can rebuild it”.
Messages reading “No access without permission from the Islamic State” can be seen scrawled across some of the ruins.
While historians are confident that much of the structure of the ancient city can be restored, the same cannot be said of the museum’s artefacts with much of the relics having been defaced or sold on the black market.
A plume of smoke is the only sign of movement in the modern city of Tadmur which sits just 500 metres from the ancient ruins.
The residential neighbourhoods remain largely deserted while soldiers defuse the mines lining the streets.
While experts estimate that it may take five years to restore the ruins of Palmyra’s cultural heritage, it is difficult to say how long it will take for the modern city to be revived from the ravages of five years of conflict, with no end to the fighting in sight.