Russian maestro conducts concert in ruins of Syria’s Palmyra

Renowned Russian conductor Valery Gergiev has led a classical music concert in the ruins of the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which was recently liberated from Daesh.

The symphony orchestra concert titled “Praying for Palmyra - Music revives ancient ruins” was performed in the Roman Theater of Palmyra, one of the few sites still largely intact after its devastation by terrorists during the 10-month occupation.

The venue served as the main site for the annual Palmyra festival prior to the militants’ rampage in the troubled region.

Russian and Syrian military personnel as well as locals attended the concert.

Organizers said the musical show commemorates those who lost their lives while liberating the city from militants.

President Vladimir Putin, addressing the audience by video link from his Russian Black Sea residence in Sochi, described the concert as a sign of remembrance for victims of extremism, and as a promise of hope for victory over terrorism worldwide.

“I regard it [the concert] as a sign of gratitude, remembrance and hope,” said he, adding that all should be grateful to “those who fight terrorism without sparing one’s own life.”

The Russian president also called on people to remember “all victims of terror” and to “hope not just for the revival of Palmyra as cultural heritage of humanity, but for the rescue of modern civilization from this terrible menace - international terrorism.”

Konstantin Dolgov, human rights chief at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said in a post on Twitter that “the concert in Palmyra is a highly spiritual response to those who wanted to destroy Syria and split the country along national and religious lines.”

Palmyra, a UNESCO heritage site, has seen the destruction of magnificent monuments such as the Arch of Triumph, the Temple of Baalshamin, and the Temple of Bel within the past year. Daesh terrorists also vandalized its precious exhibits and looted Palmyra’s museums.

A team of international experts is currently working to restore artifacts severely damaged by the terrorists.

Palmyra had fallen to Daesh in May last year. The Syrian army, backed by popular defense groups and a Russian aerial campaign, in late March regained control over the city after some four weeks of fierce fighting with Daesh.

The Syrian soldiers have now cleared bombs and landmines planted in Palmyra by Daesh.

The army has vowed to press ahead with its counter-terror military operations and drive Daesh elements out of their major strongholds in the conflict-ridden Arab country.

Syria has been gripped by militancy since 2011. According to a February report by the Syrian Center for Policy Research, the conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of over 470,000 people in total.

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