UNESCO: temple of bel destruction in Syria is a crime against civilization

Paris, September 2: The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) firmly condemned on Tuesday the destruction of the Temple of Bel in Syria by militants of the terrorist organization ‘Islamic State’ (widely known as ISIS), reported TASS news agency.

In her statement Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova expressed “profound dismay” at the situation. The Director-General emphasized the fact that such extremist actions “constitute an intolerable crime against civilization”. At the same time she expressed hope that despite recent war crimes “4500 years of human history will not be erased”. “Each of these attacks invites us to share ever more widely the heritage of humanity, whether in museums, schools, the media and our homes. This is the sense of the initiatives launched everywhere in the world by UNESCO,” the statement says.

“In the face of this most recent war crime, UNESCO reaffirms its determination to go on protecting all that which can be saved. It will pursue its unrelenting fight against illicit trafficking in cultural objects, the documentation of sites, and the setting up of networks that link thousands of experts in Syria and all over the world, to transmit this heritage to future generations,” the statement of UNESCO’ chief goes. It pays great attention to the task of spreading knowledge about the history and importance of Palmyra’s famed temples. 

“Whoever saw Palmyra remains forever marked by the memory of the city which embodies the dignity of the entire Syrian people and humanity’s loftiest aspirations”, Irina Bokova noted. On Tuesday UN confirmed that ISIS mercenaries destroyed yet another age-old temple in the ancient Syrian city of Palmira. It refers to the Temple of Bel erected in year 32 A.D., one of the most important relics of the ancient city.

“We can confirm the destruction of the main building of the Temple of Bel as well as a row of columns in its immediate vicinity,” reported the UN Training and Research Agency (UNITAR) as quoted by the British Broadcasting Corporation. Palmyra was one of the richest cities of Late Antiquity, located in an oasis of the Syrian Desert between Damascus and Euphrates, at a distance of 240 km north-east from the former and 140 km from the latter. Palmyra’s ruins are included by UNESCO in the list of World Heritage sites.

More sites destroyed by militants In the past week ISIS militants blew up the Temple of Baalshamin (131 A.D.) dedicated to the Phoenician deity of fertility and storm. And the week before that, they massacred Syrian archaeologist Khaled al-Assaad. The 82-year old professor, who devoted his life to the study of Palmyra’s antiquities, refused to divulge to the militants the whereabouts of treasures.

According to Dr. Abdulkarim, just before the city was invaded by ISIS, al-Assaad and his sons had been helping to hide more than 400 most valuable artifacts from the local museum’s treasury. Islamic State (IS) is an Islamist terrorist organization; in 2013-2014 it operated under the name of “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL, ISIS), mostly within the territory of Iraq and Syria.

In June 2014 it announced the establishment of “Islamic caliphate” (a state with Sharia form of government) on the occupied territories and was renamed to “Islamic State”.