“In addition to the continuation of capacity building work, regional cooperation and advocacy programs that are in place, ICCROM is ready to take all necessary actions in consultation with the local heritage stakeholders, to protect the rich cultural heritage in Palmyra,” De Caro said.
The ICCROM head noted that the organization’s First Aid to Cultural Heritage in Times of Emergency and Risk Management training program has already proved useful in Palmyra in 2015, when the Palmyra Museum was evacuated. At the time, Syrian experts had already been trained in packing, rapid documentation, transporting and handling of museum collections in times of emergency.
“For example several mosaic pavements were and will be transferred outside Syria; based on ICCROM's expertise, work with its partners and network of trained professionals, we aim to conserve a number of damaged artefacts once funding is secured,” Dr. De Caro added.
On Tuesday, Syrian Culture Minister Mohammad Ahmad told Sputnik that Daesh militants have been destroying historic monuments in Palmyra in response to the advance of the Syrian government's army.
Daesh first seized Palmyra in May 2015 and lost it to Russia-backed Syrian government forces in March 2016. During the occupation, the extremists blew up several monuments, including two 2,000-year-old temples and an arch.
Palmyra was recaptured by Daesh in December 2016, with the terror group’s gains in the historic city prompting the Syrian army to launch an offensive to retake it. Russia’s General Staff said Saturday that the Syrian army was advancing toward the city.