Saturday, August 22, 2015

ISIS destruction of heritage ‘most brutal since WWII’ (UNESCO)

ISIS extremists in Syria and Iraq are engaged in the “most brutal, systematic” destruction of ancient sites since World War II, the head of the U.N. cultural agency said Friday - a stark warning that came hours after militants demolished a monastery with ancient foundations in central Syria.

The world’s only recourse is to try to prevent the sale of looted artifacts, thus cutting off a lucrative stream of income for the militants, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova told The Associated Press.


Recent attacks have stoked fears that ISIS is accelerating its campaign to demolish and loot heritage sites.
On Friday, witnesses said the militants bulldozed St. Elian Monastery which houses a 5th century tomb and served as a major pilgrimage site. Days earlier, ISIS beheaded an 81-year-old antiquities scholar who had dedicated his life to overseeing the ruins of Palmyra in Syria, one of the Middle East’s most spectacular archaeological sites.

Since capturing about a third of Syria and Iraq last year, ISIS fighters have destroyed mosques, churches and archaeological sites, causing extensive damage to the ancient cities of Nimrud, Hatra and Dura Europos in Iraq. In May, they seized Palmyra, the Roman-era city on the edge of a modern town of the same name.

“We haven’t seen something similar since the Second World War,” Bokova said of the scope of the ISIS campaign against ancient sites. “I think this is the biggest attempt, the most brutal systematic destruction of world heritage.”

Bokova said recent images of archaeological sites under ISIS control in Iraq and Syria show signs of widespread illegal digging and looting. “If you look at the maps, the photos, the satellite pictures of it, you will not recognize one place,” she said. “It is just hundreds of holes all around them.”

There is very little the world can do to stop the extremists from inflicting more damage, she said, but stopping the trafficking in artifacts must be a priority.

Bokova spoke hours after IS posted photos on social media showing bulldozers destroying the St. Elian Monastery near the town of Qaryatain in central Syria. The group had captured the town in early August...

 AFP
 alarabiya.net
22/8/15
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1 comment:

  1. Palmyra's Baalshamin temple 'blown up by ISIS'...

    Islamic State militants have destroyed Palmyra's ancient temple of Baalshamin, Syrian officials and activists say.

    Syria's head of antiquities was quoted as saying the temple was blown up on Sunday. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that it happened one month ago.

    IS took control of Palmyra in May, sparking fears the group might demolish the Unesco World Heritage site.

    The group has destroyed several ancient sites in Iraq.

    IS "placed a large quantity of explosives in the temple of Baalshamin today and then blew it up causing much damage to the temple," Syrian antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim told AFP news agency.....BBC
    24/8/15

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