UNESCO calls for renewed protection of Palmyra following recapture

IS destroyed a number of buildings of the ancient site after the capture of Palmyra in 2015 (© James Gordon)

Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Irina Bokova called for redoubling efforts to protect Syrian heritage following the recapture of Palmyra City by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) backed by the Russian airforce from the Islamic State (IS) on Thursday.

“Palmyra has already suffered too much from the infernal cycle of looting, systematic destruction and fighting. These degradations must stop, and UNESCO will do its utmost to document these damages so that these crimes do not go unpunished,” the Director-General said, stressing that “The protection of the archaeological site of Palmyra is both a major cultural issue and an imperative for security, peace and the recovery of a whole country.”

The Baalshamin temple erected in the first century AD was, according to several reports, blown up on 23 August last summer. The temple is part of the site of Palmyra, one of the most important cultural heritages of the world, was severely damaged under IS rule. The UNESCO Director-General has called the acts of destruction “war crimes.”