Ten countries formed a new group Monday (April 24th) aimed at protecting ancient heritage from extremism of the kind that saw the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) lay waste to Syria's ancient city of Palmyra, AFP reported.
Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Greece, Italy, China, India, Bolivia, Mexico and Peru -- all home to some of the world's most cherished archaeological sites -- have signed up to the "forum" launched in Athens by ministers and ambassadors from the nations.
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, whose government is spearheading the project along with China, said the group would run joint projects to promote "dialogue in the face of fanaticism, and culture in the face of terrorism".
ISIL fighters seized the ancient ruins of Palmyra in May 2015, systematically destroying and looting the temples of the UNESCO World Heritage site.
The group also ravaged the Assyrian city of Nimrud in Iraq using bulldozers and explosives, and ransacked pre-Islamic treasures in Mosul's museum.
The new 10-country group is due to meet again in Bolivia next year, the Greek foreign ministry said.
"We support dialogue between civilisations against the intolerance of which ISIL is a symbol," Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari said.