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NOW

Iran ready to “restore Palmyra”

The Islamic Republic sent a letter to UNESCO offering to help rebuild the World Heritage Site.

Temple of Bel. (AFP/Joseph Eid)

BEIRUT – Iran has voiced to UNESCO its readiness to help restore the ancient archeological center of Palmyra after Syrian regime forces regained control of the World Heritage Site from ISIS.

 

Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization chief Massoud Soltanifar sent a letter to the UN organization saying that his country wants to “participate in the restoration and preservation of cultural heritage” in the town, which was once of Syria’s top tourist draws.

 

“Given the Islamic Republic of Iran's responsibility with endangered Syrian cultural heritage… [Tehran’s] Cultural Heritage [organization] stresses its readiness to protect, restore and repair… cultural heritage in Syria, especially in Palmyra,” the letter, which was addressed to UNESCO Director-General Irina Bukova, said.

 

The letter was sent a day after the head of an Iranian parliamentary delegation visiting Damascus announced that Tehran had “started developing a program for the reconstruction” of Syria.

 

Syrian regime forces swept into Palmyra on March 27 following weeks of fierce battles and intense bombardment that devastated large swathes of the residential areas of the town near the archaeological complex.

 

ISIS had taken the heritage site in May 2015 and instituted its draconian rule over the town’s residents while also destroying ancient heritage monuments, including the Temple of Bel, the Monastery of Saint Elian, many of the Roman columns at the entrance of Palmyra, a number of priceless statues and artifacts found in the main museum as well as ancient grave sites. 

 

NOW’s English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. 

Remains of the Temple of Bel, which was demolished by ISIS. (AFP/Joseph Eid)

The head of an Iranian parliamentary delegation visiting Damascus announced that Tehran had “started developing a program for the reconstruction” of Syria.