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UNESCO condemns air attack on museum in Syria

PARIS, June 18 (KUNA) -- The Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova condemned the airstrikes that damagd the Maarrat al Numaan Museum in Idlib province, northwest Syria, three days ago.
"I am profoundly distressed by the damage inflicted on the Maarrat al Numaan Museum," Bokova said in a statement on Wednesday.
"This Ottoman caravanserai preserves valuable artefacts from the ancient villages of northern Syria, a serial UNESCO World Heritage site of the late Roman and Byzantine periods" said the Director-General.
Most of the mosaics collection survived the air strike thanks to sandbagging and other risk-mitigation measures carried out. However, serious damage was sustained by the mosaics and artefacts displayed on the outer loggias of the building, as well as part of the museum's library.
"I reiterate my appeal to all parties to respect and protect cultural heritage in Syria, where destruction has already reached a devastating scale. "This heritage is a testimony of the Syrian people's invaluable contribution to our civilization, and the cultural diversity that nourishes our common history. We all share the responsibility of its protection and transmission to future generations," she added.
Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria, cultural heritage has suffered unprecedented damage. Syria's six World Heritage sites - including the Ancient City of Aleppo, its eleven sites inscribed on the World Heritage Tentative List, and many places of cultural significance have been damaged.
A large number of Syria's archaeological sites have been illegally excavated and looted, according to the statement. (end) amm.gb