MOSCOW — The Russian Defense Ministry says that scientists in Damascus have begun reconstructing ancient sculptures from the city of Palmyra that were damaged by the Islamic State group during Syria's civil war.

The ministry said in a statement on Monday — citing reports by the state news agency RIA-Novosti — that a group of eight experts has started work on the statues and sculptures rescued from Palmyra.

The ancient city is home to one of the Middle East's most spectacular archaeological sites. Many of them were badly damaged by IS in 2015. Palmyra is a world heritage site protected by the United Nation's cultural agency.

RIA-Novosti cited Syrian officials as saying that they are getting help from Russia's Pushkin museum in Moscow.