Russia's famous Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra staged a classical music concert in the amphitheater of Syria's Palmyra later on Thursday, just over a month after Russian airstrikes helped push Islamic State militants from the ancient city.
The Kremlin said the concert, conducted by Valery Gergiev, a strong supporter of President Vladimir Putin, was a brilliant way of showing solidarity with Russian forces fighting in Syria as well as the Syrian army.
"The masters of culture are showing their solidarity by standing by those fighting terrorists," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow ahead of the concert. "This of course deserves the highest appreciation."
The event, held in the city's Roman amphitheater, is called "With a prayer about Palmyra. Music revives the ancient walls."
Islamic State used the amphitheater as a venue to conduct public executions.
Russian special forces called in airstrikes in March to help the Syrian government retake the city and Russian engineers later demined Palmyra. Moscow has also said its experts are ready to help restore the city, a UNESCO world heritage site, parts of which militants destroyed.
Thursday's concert has echoes of a similar performance, also conducted by Gergiev, in August 2008, when the Mariinsky performed in front of the bombed-out parliament of the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia after Russian forces defeated the Georgian army in a short war over the territory.
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