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20 January 2017

Security Council Press Statement on Destruction of Cultural Heritage, Executions in Palmyra

The following Security Council press statement was issued today by Council President Olof Skoog (Sweden):

The members of the Security Council were alarmed by reports, including from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), of the destruction of cultural heritage in Palmyra, Syria, including the tetrapylon and parts of the theatre, with satellite imagery by United Nations Institute for Training and Research-Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNITAR-UNOSAT) confirming the destruction.

The members of the Security Council were alarmed by reports of executions in the theatre of Palmyra and expressed deep concern for the safety of thousands of Palmyra residents inside the city.

The members of the Security Council strongly condemned these ongoing terrorist acts by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh) in Syria.

The members of the Security Council reaffirmed their grave concern for the protection of the World Heritage Site of Palmyra and the systematic campaign of destruction of cultural heritage in Syria by ISIL/Da’esh.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their condemnation of the destruction of cultural heritage in Syria by ISIL/Da’esh, including targeted destruction of religious sites and objects, and noted with concern that ISIL and other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida have generated income from engaging directly or indirectly in the looting and smuggling of cultural heritage items from archaeological sites, museums, libraries, archives and other sites in Syria, which is being used to support their recruitment efforts and to strengthen their operational capability to organize and carry out terrorist attacks.  The members of the Security Council underlined the need to bring perpetrators of these acts to justice.

The members of the Security Council stressed again that ISIL must be defeated and that the intolerance, violence and hatred it espouses must be stamped out.

The members of the Security Council noted the statement of UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova that “this destruction is a new war crime and an immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity”, and voiced their support for the efforts by UNESCO to address the destruction and looting of cultural heritage, including efforts to assist in the implementation of relevant provisions of United Nations Security Council resolution 2199 (2015).

For information media. Not an official record.