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UN voices warning over looting Syria's cultural heritage

April 12, 2014 at 10:36 am

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has urged Russia and the United States to help revive the stalled peace talks aimed at ending the Syrian civil war, stressing that the time has come to put an end to the bloodshed.

A joint statement issued by Ban Ki-moon, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova and international mediator on Syria Lakhdar Brahimi appealed to all the conflicting parties in Syria to protect the country’s rich cultural heritage, much of which has been destroyed during the last three years of war.

The three officials condemned the use of cultural sites for military purposes, pointing out that four sites listed as World Heritage Sites have been turned into battle arenas: Palmyra, Krak des Chevaliers, the Church of St Simon and the Citadel of Aleppo.

The UN officials urged artefacts and customs merchants to look out for the systematic looting of archaeological sites in Syria and stolen Syrian artefacts.

The UN officials noted that, “troubling information has revealed that the Syrian heritage is intentionally targeted for ideological reasons where extremist groups have destroyed human statues,” adding that, “All layers of Syrian culture are now under attack – including pre-Christian, Christian and Muslim.”