DAMASCUS – Palmyra’s ancient Roman temples and archway, blown up by Islamic State fighters last year, will be restored once Syria recaptures the city from the ultra-hardline Islamist group, the head of the antiquities authority said on Saturday. Mamoun Abdelkarim told Reuters he hoped Palmyra would be retaken within days, after government forces fought their way into the western
and northern parts of the city, and promised to revive the Roman-era monuments “as a message against terrorism”. Islamic State militants dynamited the temples of Baal Shamin and Bel, as well as funeral towers and a triumphal arch, which had stood for 1,800 years in the oasis city described by the UN cultural agency as a crossroads of cultures since the dawn of humanity. Despite that damage, Abdelkarim said film footage he had seen from Palmyra in recent days, including some taken by a drone flying over the old city, had been reassuring. Many structures were still standing, he said, including the walls around the Temple of Bel, the amphitheatre, the long colonnaded avenue and Palmyra’s striking tetrapylon – a platform with four columns at each corner.