Russian symphony orchestra performs in former Isis stronghold

It wasn't so long ago that Isis was murdering people in the ancient Palmyra theatre.

A file picture taken on 19 June 2010 shows the Arch of Triumph among the Roman ruins of Palmyra, 220km north-east of the Syrian capital Damascus. Picture: AFP.

PALMYRA - A Russian symphony orchestra has given a unique performance in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra, which was recently liberated from Islamic State (Isis) militants.

The concert was devoted to the victims of the extremists and organisers say they hope it shows that peace can triumph over war.

It wasn't so long ago that Isis was murdering people in the ancient Palmyra theatre.

But the sound of gunfire has now been replaced by classical music and a message that peace, harmony and culture will always prevail over death and destruction.

Led by a famous Russian conductor, the maestro said the concert was a protest against the barbarism and violence exhibited by Islamic State militants who had used the city's Roman amphitheatre to execute prisoners.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the several hundred-strong crowd made up of Russian and Syrian soldiers, civilians and a delegation from Unesco.

Putin said he sees the concert as a sign of remembrance for victims of extremism, and as a promise of hope for victory over terrorism worldwide.

Talking to eyewitness news, the Unesco delegation, comprising representatives from both South Africa and Zimbabwe, said they believed it would take another five to seven years to completely restore the sites.

And that it was fortunate the jihadists had been stopped in their very deliberate and systematic attempt to destroy the ancient city.