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Drone footage shows devastation in Palmyra after Syrian Army recapture city from Isis

Some of the city's 2000-year-old ruins have been totally destroyed

Matt Broomfield
Monday 28 March 2016 09:44 BST

Drone footage taken over the Syrian city of Palmyra after regime forces recaptured it from Isis shows the devastation created by years of fighting, Russian air strikes and deliberate vandalism by militants.

Syrian government forces, working in tandem with Russian air strikes, took the city back from Isis on Sunday.

From the air, the cityscape appears almost entirely deserted. Prior to Isis over-running the city, the population of the town was a little under 200,000. Up to a quarter of those were refugees already displaced from other cities.

But once Isis took the city over, all but 5,000 of its residents fled: some went to Raqqa and some into the surrounding countryside, while those who were able travelled to Turkey or deep into regime-controlled areas.

Those who remained were either sympathetic to Isis' Islamist project, or too poor to flee the city.

The Temple of Bel was a 2000-year-old Mesopotamian place of worship, considered one of the best-preserved ruins in the region, while the Arch of Triumph was a secular structure dating from the same era. Another World Heritage Site in the city was the Temple of Baalshamin, parts of which were up to 2,200 years old.

All three are absent from the footage, having been symbolically blown up or otherwise destroyed by Isis last year. Since the city's recapture, Syrian Director of Antiquities Maamoun Abdelkarim has said the buildings will be rebuilt using their surviving ruins.

These absences aside, the city's historic ruins appear relatively unscathed. Still standing is an ancient amphitheatre where Isis shot many of their execution videos.

Some of the footage is shot by the Russian TV channel Ru-RTR, and some by the Syrian Military Media Centre.

Palmyra is known as the "Pearl of the Desert".

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