Syria deems destruction of ancient sites in Palmyra as "war crime" 

DAMASCUS, Jan. 23 (MNA) – Syrian Culture Minister Muhammad Ahmad said Sunday that the bombing of the historic heritage in the ancient oasis city of Palmyra by ISIL group is a "war crime."

In a press briefing, Ahmad said the recent bombing of the facade of the historic amphitheater in Palmyra northeast of Damascus as well as other relics and monuments in that millennia-old city targeted Syrian heritage and culture.

"These monuments are not only the property of Syria, but the whole world," Ahmad said, urging the international community to shoulder its responsibility in protecting this world heritage.

"Any inaction in this difficult time threatens Palmyra and will be a clear runaway from the humanitarian and ethical duty in protecting and preserving the World Heritage," he said.

Last Friday, the ISIL destroyed the facade of the ancient Roman theater as well as the Tetrapylon in Palmyra.

The interface of the theater was completely demolished after being booby-trapped, so was the famous Tetrapylon, an ancient Roman monument of a cubic shape, in that millennia-old city.

One month ago, the group stormed the city for the second time after losing it nine months earlier to the Syrian army.

In its first invasion of Palmyra in 2015, the ISIL destroyed key temples and monuments there.

In his briefing, Ahmad said the presence of ISIL in Palmyra exposed the the city to further destruction and would push it into a "scary nightmare."

Ahmad said that during the nearly six years' war in his country, the authorities have preserved 90 percent of the artifacts in museums around Syria from being looted by moving them into secret locations.

He added that the theft rate of artifacts has not exceeded 1 percent.

Regarding the ancient part of the city of Aleppo, which was under the rebels' control for four years before the army wrested back control of that area late last year, Ahmad said that 40 percent of old Aleppo was still in a good condition, 30 percent in a medium condition, and the rest in a "catastrophic status."


News Code 122941


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