Syrian experts have so far been unable to assess the damage done by militants to Syria’s recently liberated ancient city of Ebla in the Idlib province, because the territory is yet to be cleared from explosives, the head of Syria’s Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums, Mahmoud Hammoud, told TASS.
Syria’s SANA news agency reported that the governmental troops gained control over the historic site on February 5. Prior to that, Syrian troops liberated the city of Maarat al-Numan, the second largest city of the Idlib governorate, located on the strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway.
Experts of the Syrian Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums regularly visit liberated territories to assess damage dealt to the country’s cultural heritage.
"It is not yet safe to visit [Ebla], the territory is yet to be cleared from mines," Hammoud said.
According to Hammoud, militants turned the ancient city into a training camp and ransacked archaeological sites. They also dug trenches and conducted illegal excavations, mixing up cultural layers.
Ebla, a city-state in the vicinity of modern Aleppo, is one of Syria’s most ancient cites that thrived roughly between 3,000-2,000 B.C. Excavations in the area began in 1964. Archaeologists managed to find the city's archive, dated somewhere about 3,000 B.C. In an earlier interview to TASS, Mahmoud Hammoud said that militants who captured Idlib in 2015, stole about 16,000 cuneiform tablets from a city museum.