Middle East

Al-Qaeda militant hammers historic tomb in Aleppo

Untitled-1A new video has emerged showing al-Qaeda affiliated militants destroying a historic tomb in Syria’s Aleppo, one of the main strongholds of foreign-backed militants.
The video went viral on the internet by heritage protection activists who were concerned by the extent of damages caused to Syria’s valuable historic treasures by the massive ongoing war in the country.
According to media reports the man hitting four tombs in the video was affiliated to the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Levant group which is al-Qaeda’s active branch in Syria’s war.
Damage has been caused to all six world heritage sites in Syria; the archaeological villages of northern Syria, Bosra historic site, Krak des chevaliers, Palmyra , old city of Damascus, and medieval buildings in the ancient city of Aleppo, along with numerous historic buildings, tell mounds, and archaeological sites.
Destructive effects of the conflict are caused by shelling, looting and army or militias occupation.
In June, UNESCO placed Syria’s six world heritage sites on the organization’s list of endangered sites, including Aleppo which has suffered considerable damage in the course of the country’s ongoing conflict.
According to UNESCO reports Aleppo’s old city, in particular, has “witnessed some of the conflict’s most brutal destruction” and the old citadel had been caught in the line of fire.
In April, the minaret of Aleppo’s ancient Umayyad mosque – originally built in the 8th century and then rebuilt in the 13th century – was destroyed.
“The immediate, near-term and long-term effect of the crises on the cultural heritage of Aleppo cannot be overstated,” UNESCO said in a July report.
Clandestine excavations, including looting of ancient tombs and grave sites, have also been reported at several of the sites, it added.
All twenty five cultural heritage museums dispersed around Syria, many with artifacts stored outside, were looted by militants, except those in capital.
On March 2012 Irena Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO made a public appeal for the protection of Syria’s cultural heritage and expressed “grave concern about possible damage to precious sites.”
Bokova issued a statement of regret in October about the destruction and fire that burnt the ancient souk in the old city of Aleppo, calling it a “crossroads of cultures since the 2nd millennium BC”.
She called on the parties involved to comply with the Hague Convention of 1954 on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.

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