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UNESCO urges ‘immediate’ end to Syria’s Palmyra fighting

UNESCO has urged an “immediate” halt to the clashes between Syrian forces and the ISIL Takfiri terrorists near the ancient city of Palmyra in Homs Province, expressing concern about the destruction of the priceless archaeological site.

Irina Bokova, the director general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said in a statement on Wednesday that she was “deeply concerned” about fighting in Syria’s historical city of Palmyra, which was “putting at risk one of the most significant sites in the Middle East.”

She also demanded that “all parties respect international obligations to protect cultural heritage during conflict, by avoiding direct targeting, as well as use for military purposes.”

“I reiterate my appeal for an immediate cessation of hostilities at the site,” the UNESCO official added.

Palmyra is home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which is located in the city’s southwest. The site is best known for its ancient temples, Roman colonnades, and its adjacent museum, which houses priceless artifacts.

According to the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the ISIL terrorists “seized the northern parts of the city, which amount to a third of Palmyra.”

The militants’ offensive has sparked concerns that they would destroy the ruins as they have done with major archaeological sites in neighboring Iraq.

The Takfiri terrorists have razed to the ground a number of mosques in Syria and Iraq, many of them dating back to the early years of the Islamic civilization. The terrorists have also destroyed tombs belonging to revered Shia and Sunni figures.

In April, ISIL released a video showing its members destroying artifacts at Iraq’s northern ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud before blowing up part of the site. Also in February, the terrorists smashed ancient statues at the Ninawa museum in Mosul, using sledgehammers and drills.

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