Bombing and shelling have destroyed parts of Aleppo’s Old City. Photo: Unknown
Just days after Emma Cunliffe’s updated report on Syrian cultural heritage sites was posted to the Global Heritage Network (GHN) Community, NBC News interviewed Cunliffe and GHF’s Dr. Dan Thompson for a story about war-related damage to these sites.
“Pictures and video evidence gathered by people on the ground shows the extent of the damage and prove that none of these sites are now safe from the conflict,” said Cunliffe, whose new report includes more than 20 links to online videos, photos and reports documenting the destruction.
Cunliffe’s original report, “Damage to the Soul: Syria’s Cultural Heritage in Conflict,” was posted on GHN in May. With ground access in Syria severely limited for both journalists and antiquities experts, the report has been cited by many global media outlets, including National Geographic and The Wall Street Journal. Cunliffe’s update summarizes the condition of Syria’s six UNESCO World Heritage Sites — Aleppo, Damascus, Palmyra, Crak des Chevaliers, Bosra, and the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria — all of which have been damaged by shelling, fires and/or looting.
A damaged ceiling in Bab Antakya district of Aleppo. Photo: Reuters
Comparing the situation in Syria to the Iraq conflict, during which many national treasures disappeared, Cunliffe told NBC, “Large gangs of men turned up at Iraqi sites, totally overwhelming the protection, and looted on a vast scale. If that starts to happen in Syria, there will be problems because there’s little that can be done about it.”
Dr. Thompson, GHF’s Director of Global Projects and Global Heritage Network, said that GHF and other national and international organizations will be ready to help as soon as the conflict ends, but that for now “the most anyone can do is to closely monitor and publicize the devastation … and plead for both sides to respect the country’s cultural heritage, as UNESCO has done.”
About the long-term effects of the destruction, Dr. Thompson said, “The continuing damage and destruction of World Heritage Sites and other national antiquities in Syria during the present conflict is not only a loss to human civilization, but also greatly reduces the socio-economic potential these sites offer to local communities and the country as a whole.”
Click here to read the full article on NBCNews.com
Click here to read Emma Cunliffe’s “No World Heritage Site Safe in Syria” on GHN