DAMASCUS (Sputnik) — In May, Islamic State captured Palmyra, subsequently destroying some of its historic sites. The Syrian government evacuated the majority of the local population and removed the most valuable artifacts from museums to prevent their theft, sale or destruction.
"The restoration, which we will do in the long run, will be worth billions of dollars. We are currently thinking more of how to stop the destruction, not how to restore it," Maamoun Abdulkarim told reporters.
According to Abdulkarim, the Syrian government is struggling to resolve the issue of ISIL militants stealing over 6,500 valuable objects from local museums and selling them abroad.
Since the beginning of the year, ISIL militants have seized, looted and destroyed several of the world's most important archaeological and cultural sites in the region.