Syria: UN cultural chief deplores ruination of Aleppo as ancient minaret is destroyed

Ancient City of Aleppo, Syria. Photo: UNESCO/Ron Van Oers

25 April 2013 – With reports that the minaret of one of Syria’s most famous mosques was reduced to rubble in Aleppo today, the head of the United Nations cultural organization expressed her deep distress over continuing destruction of the ancient city of Aleppo, designated a World Heritage site.

The Great Mosque, at the heart of the ancient city of Aleppo, had already been badly damaged by fire during heavy fighting in the ancient city in October 2012,” according to a news release from the of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that contained the reaction of Director-General Irina Bokova to the destruction.

“On that occasion, the Director-General reminded all parties of the country’s obligations under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, to which Syria is a signatory,” the release continued.

The Ancient City of Aleppo was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 1986, in recognition of its “rare and authentic Arab architectural styles” and its testimony to the city's cultural, social, and technological development from the Mameluke period. It is one of six Syrian World Heritage sites.

The conflict in Syria has killed over 70,000 people and wreaked widespread destruction since opposition forces sought to oust President Bashar Al-Assad in 2011. Latest figures show 6.8 million people in need, 4.25 million people internally displaced and an additional 1.3 million seeking refuge in neighbouring countries.


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