Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bovoka has underscored 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.
"This heritage has survived millennia, it fosters unity and identity for the Syrian people. Its preservation is inseparable from the protection of human life and is an integral part of the response to humanitarian emergencies. It must be left out of the conflict," she said in a statement published on UNESCO website.
Bovoka indicated that UNESCO is currently holding an emergency international meeting in Beirut to coordinate the protection of cultural heritage in the devastated ancient city of Aleppo and remains fully engaged with Syrian antiquities officials and all its partners for the preservation of Syrian heritage as a whole.
"The situation requires extreme vigilance and constant international cooperation at the highest level for the coming decades. 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. I remind all the forces involved of the absolute necessity to safeguard this emblematic heritage as a key condition for peace in the region," she added.
An Oasis in the Syrian desert northeast of Damascus, Palmyra contains the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. At the crossroads of several civilizations, the art and architecture of Palmyra mixes Greco-Roman and Persian influences with local traditions and represents a symbol of openness and tolerance.
The site of Palmyra has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1980 and on the List of World Heritage in Danger since 2013.
Last Thursday, the Syrian Arab army in cooperation with allied forces recaptured Palmyra city [Tadmor] –for the second time-from ISIS terrorists following successful military operations supported by Syrian and Russian warplanes.
Many sites in the city were systematically damaged by ISIS terrorists last July and the National museum of Palmyra was turned into a prison by them.
There are 10.000 archeological sites in Syria, 300 of them have been damaged since the start of the terrorist war on Syria, DGAM's Director-General Maamoun Abdulkarim told the French Le Figaro newspaper in 2015.
Since 2011, Syria has faced a foreign-backed terror war targeting its army, people, civilization and infrastructures.
Compiled by: Basma Qaddour