The Latest: Russian conductor leads Palmyra concert in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest on the conflict in Syria (all times local):

6:30 p.m.

Renowned Russian conductor Valery Gergiev has led the Mariinsky orchestra from St. Petersburg in a concert at the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

The concert, dubbed “With a Prayer for Palmyra,” was held in the amphitheatre in Palmyra on Thursday afternoon and the program included Bach’s Chaconne for Solo Violin, a cello piece by Rodion Shchedrin and Sergei Prokofiev’s First Symphony.

The audience included Russian servicemen, including those who have been doing demining in Palmyra after Islamic State militants were routed from the city and it was retaken by Syrian government troops with the help of Russian airstrikes.

The IS militants badly damaged the world famous archaeological site of Palmyra. In opening remarks, Gergiev said that with the concert, “we protest against the barbarians who destroyed monuments of world culture.”

There was also a video linkup in which Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed the audience.

Putin said he regards the concert “as a sign of gratitude, remembrance and hope – of gratitude to all those who fight terrorism without sparing one’s own life; of remembrance for all victims of terror, regardless of the place and time of crimes against humanity; and of course hope not just for the revival of Palmyra as a cultural asset of all humanity but for the deliverance of modern civilization from this terrible ill, from international terrorism.”


11 a.m.

Syrian state TV is reporting that two explosions in a village in the central province of Homs have killed and wounded several people.

The channel says the first blast in the village of Mukharam al-Fawkani was a car bomb and the second was a suicide attacker wearing an explosive belt. The report gave no breakdown of the casualties from the blasts.

The Islamic State group had claimed responsibility for similar attacks in Homs province in recent months that killed scores of people.

The violence came as the northern city of Aleppo witnessed relative calm as U.S. officials announced an agreement had been reached with Russia to extend Syria’s latest fragile cease-fire to the deeply contested northern city.

The Syrian military said the truce, which began at 12:01 a.m. Thursday (5 p.m. Wednesday EDT) would last only 48 hours.


10:30 a.m.

Turkey’s state-run news agency says a salvo of rockets has struck southern Turkey, wounding four people.

The Anadolu Agency said three rockets struck the Turkish town of Kilis early Thursday.

The rockets were fired from Islamic State group-controlled territory in Syria, according to the private Dogan News agency.

It said one policeman was among the wounded and broadcast images of damaged buildings and vehicles.

Such incidents have become a regular occurrence in the border town, which is home to a significant Syrian refugee population.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned IS on Wednesday that no attack on Turkey would go unanswered.

Cross-border fire has left 20 people dead and dozens of others wounded this year.

The Turkish military typically fires back in line with its rules of engagement.