May 17, 2016 - 17:31 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The Russian military is constructing a new army base in the central Syrian town of Palmyra, within the protected zone that holds the archaeological site listed by UNESCO as a world heritage site and without asking for permission from relevant authorities, an American heritage organization and a top Syrian archaeologist said Tuesday, May 17, according to the Associated Press.
The American School of Oriental Research's Cultural Heritage Initiative posted pictures from the satellite imagery and analytics company DigitalGlobe that show the construction on the edge of the ancient site that was damaged by the Islamic State group, which held Palmyra for 10 months.
Syrian troops backed by Russian airstrikes captured Palmyra in March and fighting continues miles away until this day. Maamoun Abdulkarim, head of the Antiquities and Museums Department in Damascus, told The Associated Press that the Russians are building small barracks that includes offices and clinics.
Abdulkarim said his organization was not asked for permission but added that IS is close to the town and the presence of Russian and Syrian troops is important to ensure that the site remains in government hands.
"We refuse to give permission even if it was for a small room to be built inside the site whether it is for the Syrian army, Russian army or anyone else," Abdulkarim said by telephone from Damascus. "We will never give such permission because this will be in violation of the archaeology law."
"During the time of war, sometimes archaeological authorities don't have a say but security decisions dictate the orders," AbdulKarim said, according to AP. "Once the situation improves and peace is reached, then we will openly call for removing" the barracks.