The head of museums and antiquities in Syria has asked for Scottish expertise in his efforts to save his country's cultural legacy from destruction in its current civil war.

Professor Dr Maamoun Abdulkarim, director general of antiquities and museum in Syria, has appealed to Scottish experts to help him in the task of protecting the 10,000 important historical sites in his country.

Professor Abdulkarim is in Scotland for the Edinburgh International Culture Summit, being held this week at the Scottish Parliament in the final week of the city's festival celebrations.

He hopes that after his time in the nation's capital this week he can forge new partnerships with restoration, archaeological and other experts from Scotland that can help him protect and restore his country's heritage.

Professor Abdulkarim said that in the current "tragedy" of conflict in the country, more than 300 sites had been destroyed or severely harmed by the warfare.

He said that the most famous of these, the ruins of ancient city Palmyra, are 80% "good" despite being targeted for destruction by Islamic State (IS), and 400 statues and 1000 objects from the city are currently safe in Damascus.

The archaeologist said he had excellent relations with universities in London and elsewhere but added: "We need help from Scotland, from [elsewhere in] the UK, from France and Germany.

"We need the visit of scientists, to exchange with us scientific ideas, from Scotland's laboratories and museums, from UK, from Italy - sometimes they cannot come to Damascus, but perhaps we can meet in Beirut.

"Polish restoration [experts] came to Palmyra for three weeks, and stayed with us, and experts from Paris.

"I hope through my visit to Scotland this week we have new co-operations for the future, if it is not possible now, then in the future."

Professor Abdulkarim said that the culture of Syria was part of the world's heritage, not just of his country.

He came to his position, he said, in the summer of 2012 and his first decision was to shut down all the museums in his country, to make safe their collections, and he says they are now secure in various locations.

In August last year the 81-year-old archaeologist Khaled al-Asaad was beheaded by IS at the ancient site.

The murder was condemned as an "horrific act" by Unesco, who said he was killed because "he would not betray his deep commitment to Palmyra."