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Middle East's war-torn cultural sites get digital makeover

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By Daniel Bellamy  with Reuters
Digital reconstruction of  mosque destroyed in fighting in Iraq
Digital reconstruction of mosque destroyed in fighting in Iraq

French start-up Iconem is using drones to create digital reconstructions of cultural heritage sites destroyed by conflict in the Middle East.

Hundreds of thousands of photographs of at-risk or destroyed sites such as Palmyra and Aleppo in Syria and Mosul in Iraq have been taken.

Using algorithms and artificial intelligence, the photos were processed to produce the 3D reconstructions of the sites.

The start-up hopes that their digital reconstructions will be used when the time comes to rebuild war-torn cities.

Sites destroyed in the old city of Aleppo during the seven-year-old Syrian conflict include the Umayyad mosque, the historic citadel and the Al-Madina Souq.

Iconem has also documented Libya's impressive ancient amphitheatre built in the 7th century BC Leptis Magna, which has largely escaped damage from conflict but risks damage from urban development, vandalism and natural decay.

The group have teamed up with UNESCO World Heritage to contribute to their project to "Revive the Spirit of Mosul", which aims to help plan the reconstruction of the Iraqi city heavily bombed during the fight against its three-year-long militant occupation.