Thursday, April 17, 2014

“I feel as if I’m dead,” said Khalil al-Hariri, an archaeologist and the director of the Palmyra Museum, near the ruins. He spends his time waiting for government permission to resume his early-morning explorations, and worrying about the plundering, which he says is “destroying culture, destroying civilization.”

Officials at Unesco, the United Nations agency that works to protect historic places, have classified as endangered all six of Syria’s World Heritage sites, including Palmyra. But conflict keeps them from assessing the damage in person. In recent weeks, as the government consolidated control of the desert highway to Tadmur from the city of Homs, it allowed journalists to visit, among the first outsiders to arrive since armed revolt spread to the region in late 2011.

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