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Oman, Russia to Start Restoration of Over 200 Syrian Antiquities in 2024 – Museum Head

MUSCAT, February 23 (Sputnik) – Omani and Russian experts this year will start the restoration of a new batch of ancient objects damaged during the hostilities in Syria, Secretary General of the Oman National Museum Jamal al-Moosawi told Sputnik, adding that the works will take place in Muscat and will last two years.

“More than 200 items, 207 items to be precise, were restored at the first stage from 2021-2022 in Muscat … This year we will accept the second batch of ancient objects from Syria, which will include 200-300 items. The work will take two years, and we will also involve Russian specialists for the restoration,” al-Moosawi said in an interview.

He said that the Omani-Russian cooperation started in late 2019 in Damascus where the experts from the Middle Eastern country held a meeting with the Syrian authorities and the leadership of Russia’s State Hermitage Museum. The sides concluded an agreement that enables Oman to accept antiquities from Syria for temporary storage and assist in their restoration, the museum’s chief also said.

“We received a signal from the Hermitage that the stolen archaeological treasures from Syria were in the British Museum. They were smuggled out of Syria and stored in the British Museum. Since the UK side does not recognize Damascus, and after 2022 also has no contacts with Russia, we have assumed a mediating role … And after four years of negotiations we were able to get these items from the British Museum, they were officially transferred to the National Museum in Muscat, and late last year we transferred these items to Damascus,” al-Moosawi also said.

He added that Omani specialists managed to transfer 5,000 square meters (53, 819 square feet) of ancient mosaics from Syria’s northwestern governorate of Idlib that is not controlled by the official Syrian authorities.

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