Ten months after being overrun by Islamic State fighters, the ancient city of Palmyra has been taken back by the Syrian Army. The “Pearl of the Desert” as it is known is a major world heritage site and was feared to be entirely destroyed by the terrorist group.

Among the destroyed ruins was the more than 2,000 year old Temple of Bel, which dates back to 32 AD,  and the Arch of Triumph which dates back to the 3rd century when it was constructed by the conquering Romans, among other notable historical sites.

Despite the loss of numerous constructs and relics, the city is in in much better condition than previously feared, despite much of the modern residential area being decimated and many historical sites being damaged.

The 15 ton lion statue known as the Lion of Al-Lat, which dates back to the 1st century BC, was reported to be entirely destroyed by IS last July but was found to be in repairable condition. The ancient roman amphitheatre was also found to be only lightly damaged.

The amphitheatre was used as a stage for executions, including that of the archeologist who cared for the cities ruins for nearly 40 years. A team of archeologists will return to the city in the coming days where they will assess the full extent of the damage and attempt to repair as much as possible.

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