A city filled with ancient ruins was recaptured from ISIS. Here's what it looks like now.

Earlier this week, the Syrian army drove ISIS out of the city of Palmyra, which contains a spectacular set of ancient structures dating back nearly 2,000 years.

Palmyra after its recapture by the Syrian army. Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.


The UNESCO World Heritage Site was first captured by the militant group in May 2015.

These striking images, captured by photographer Maher al Mounes after the battle, show what remains of the historic site after nearly a year of ISIS occupation. The militant group has destroyed many monuments across Iraq and Syria that it considers blasphemous to its hard-line version of Islam.

Unsurprisingly, there's a fair bit of bad news — but also a lot of good.

ISIS initially promised it would level any parts of Palmyra that it deemed as promoting idolatry, but miraculously much of the old city is still standing.

Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.

That includes the city's citadel, which was the site of some of the fighting.

Photo by Stringer/AFP/Getty Images.

And these columns, lining a Roman-era street.

Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.

This stunning amphitheater remains largely intact.


Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.

Its magnificent entryway was, thankfully, spared as well.

Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.

Unfortunately, this entryway is all that remains of the Temple of Bel, a pre-Islamic house of worship from the first century AD, that ISIS leveled in September 2015.

Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.

The city's famous Triumphal Arch (Arc de Triomphe), which straddled a road that dates back to the Roman Empire, was also destroyed by the militant group.

Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.

While we celebrate the recapture — and mourn the loss — of the ancient city, it's important to note that this is what modern-day Palmyra and the towns surrounding it look like after 10 months of occupation and fighting:

Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.

According to NPR, most of the city's residents fled when it was overrun by ISIS last year. The rest were either killed or moved with ISIS deeper into its territory.

A U.N. analysis found that 11,000 people were displaced by the initial invasion, many of whom were forced to take shelter in neighboring towns.

Since the start of the Syrian civil war in 2011, a staggering 4.8 million people have fled the country.

In the coming months, archeologists plan to assess the damage to the ancient city and see what can be restored.

Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.

Much of the historic site may be rebuilt, in time. Syrian director of antiquities Maamoun Abdelkarim recently told The Guardian that he believes his team has more than enough images and materials to reconstruct the city's temples.

Reversing the damage is going to take time, effort, and money — but many are joining the cause.

In addition to the Syrian government's efforts, groups around the world are pitching in. A Boston-based group of researchers has launched an international effort to build a master list of sites that are most at-risk and are soliciting donations to help fund their intervention.

And UNESCO has launched an awareness campaign to draw attention to the threat to Syria's major historic landmarks.

These are critically important steps. But all the awareness in the world could easily be for naught without an end to the violence in Syria.

Photo by Maher al Mounes/Getty Images.

Not just for its people, but its history as well.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.