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Russian Orchestra Plays Concert In Palmyra's Ancient Amphitheater

A Russian orchestra has played a concert in the ancient amphitheater in Palmyra, just a month after Russian air strikes helped push Islamic State militants from the historic Syrian city.

The Kremlin called the concert by Russia's famous Mariinsky Theater a brilliant way of showing solidarity with Russian forces fighting in Syria as well as the Syrian Army.

Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the audience by video link from Sochi. He called terrorism a contagion the world needed to rid itself of and said the fact the concert was taking place at all was "surprising."

"Today's action involved major inconvenience and dangers for everyone, being in a country at war close to where hostilities are still ongoing. That has demanded great strength and personal courage from you all," said Putin.

The concert on May 5 was conducted by Valery Gergiev, a strong supporter of President Vladimir Putin.

In opening remarks, Gergiev said that with the concert, "we protest against the barbarians who destroyed monuments of world culture."

Sergei Roldugin, a cellist friend of Putin's named in the Panama Paper leaks as owning a network of offshore firms that have handled billions of dollars, also performed. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Islamic State used the same amphitheater as a venue to conduct public executions.

Based on reporting by TASS and Reuters