Iraq News

ISIL destruction at Syria's Palmyra a war crime: UN

The UN on Friday (January 20th) led condemnation of attacks by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) on two sites in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, calling them a "war crime" and "cultural cleansing", AFP reported.

UNESCO director general Irina Bokova described the wrecking as "a new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity".

"This new blow against cultural heritage... shows that cultural cleansing led by violent extremists is seeking to destroy both human lives and historical monuments in order to deprive the Syrian people of its past and its future," Bokova said.

ISIL recaptured Palmyra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, from regime forces on December 11th and the new devastation reportedly occurred earlier this month.

Syria's antiquities chief Maamoun Abdulkarim said local sources say ISIL destroyed Palmyra's tetrapylon monument, while satellite images showed damage to the facade of the city's Roman amphitheatre.

ISIL had already ravaged the city during the nine months it held the site before being forced out of Palmyra last March.

Also Friday, UNESCO said years of conflict in Syria had "totally destroyed" 30% of the historic Old City of Aleppo -- named a World Heritage Site in 1986 -- and around 60% of the quarter was "severely damaged".

The mission reported "extensive damage" to the Citadel, a fortress dating to the first millennium BCE, and the Great Mosque of Aleppo, the largest and one of the oldest of the city's mosques.

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