Two months after the historical city of Palmyra in Syria was retaken from the Islamic State group, a Russian orchestra performed at the famed Roman-era amphitheatre on Thursday, the very venue where ISIS militants had carried out executions after overrunning the city last year. However, despite a change of scenario in Palmyra, Syria's Aleppo region continued to see violence and mounting deaths, as reports on Friday said Syrian rebels had seized a village in the area from regime forces.
Russia's famous Mariinsky Theater performed the concert under renowned conductor Valery Gergiev, before an audience of Russian soldiers, Syrian government officials and journalists, according to ABC News. The Russian delegation also included cellist Sergei Roldugin, said to be Russian President Vladimir Putin's close friend.
Putin himself appeared through a live stream from Sochi, and reportedly called the concert a "sign of gratitude, of remembrance, of hope," adding that it was dedicated to the victims of "international terrorism."
Palmyra, deemed a world heritage site by UNESCO, was captured by ISIS last May and was retaken by Syrian forces backed by Russian airstrikes in March.
In another part of Syria, the government lost ground to rebel groups, including the Nusra Front, which seized the Khan Touman village located near the Damascus-Aleppo highway, according to Reuters, which cited the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The fighting between the government forces and the jihadists left over 70 people dead, reports said.
Airstrikes and bombings in Aleppo have left several civilians dead in the last few days, threatening the fragile Syrian truce.