07 April 2016 at 15:30pm
Damascus – Displaced residents of the famed Syrian city of Palmyra, recently recaptured by the army, will begin returning to their homes at the weekend, a government official told AFP on Thursday.
Syria’s armed forces recaptured Palmyra and the adjacent world-famous ruins from the Islamic State on March 27, ending nearly 10 months of jihadist rule.
IS overran the city in May 2015, spurring thousands of residents to flee west towards the government-held city of Homs.
“The first group of buses transporting residents back to Palmyra will leave on Saturday (from Homs). The residents started to register their names today,” a provincial government official told AFP.
Much of Palmyra’s pre-war population of nearly 70 000 people fled when IS took the city last year.
An estimated 15 000 residents stayed on under IS rule and fled during the Syrian army’s offensive to retake the city.
Their whereabouts are unknown.
Nearly “45 percent of the neighbourhoods have been destroyed,” the provincial official said.
Many apartment blocks had partially collapsed walls and some had been totally demolished, AFP journalists who visited the city after its recapture reported.
Authorities this week began restoring power lines in the city and repairs to housing began on Wednesday, provincial governor Talal Barazi told state news agency SANA.
Before the civil war erupted in 2011, more than 150 000 tourists a year visited the celebrated ancient ruins at Palmyra, which included colonnaded streets and 2 000-year-old temples.
But IS destroyed many of Palmyra’s most striking monuments, including the Temple of Bel and a dozen of its lavishly decorated tower tombs.
The jihadists used the city’s ancient amphitheater as a venue for public executions.
This must be the quickest return to settlement after battle, considering there are likely explosives lying in and around the area- allegedly. But again resettlement of the the city of Palmyra is important for the mirroring monuments [Temple of Baal] throughout the world starting in London and New York on 19th April 2016. These will be two pillars – like a gateway formation: a Holy Door to welcome in the “devil” himself. God help us all.