Yerevan, 18.January.2019,

Russian conductor Valery Gergiev to hold Palmyra concert

A leading Russian conductor will perform in the ruins of Palmyra in Syria on Thursday, Russian media say.

Valery Gergiev, who supported Vladimir Putin's presidential run in 2012, will perform at Palmyra's Roman Theatre, Rossiya 24 reported.

Syrian forces, backed by Russian air strikes, took back Palmyra from the so-called Islamic State (IS) in March.

Footage posted by IS showed them carrying out killings in the ancient theatre.

Rossiya 24 said the concert would be broadcast on Russian television later on Thursday.

Mr Gergiev travelled to Syria with the Symphony Orchestra of St Petersburg's Mariinsky Theatre, where he is artistic director.

Mr Gergiev also works as the principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.

In 2014, he backed Mr Putin over the annexation of the Crimea, and in 2008, performed in the capital of Georgia's South Ossetia region when Russia and Georgia were fighting over the territory.

Islamic State destroyed a number of monuments during their 10-month occupation of Palmyra and its associated Unesco World Heritage site.

Two 2,000-year-old temples, an arch and funerary towers were left in ruins.

The jihadist group, which has also demolished several pre-Islamic sites in neighbouring Iraq, believes that such structures are idolatrous.

While some treasured monuments were destroyed, much of the ancient city's ruins are intact.

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