- Turkish Operation in Northeast Threatens 30% of Syria's Cultural Heritage - Museums Agency
Turkish Operation In Northeast Threatens 30% Of Syria's Cultural Heritage - Museums Agency
Umer Jamshaid Published October 07, 2019 | 07:17 PM
Turkey's planned operation in northeast Syria threatens to destroy 30 percent of the latter's cultural heritage, Syrian Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) Mahmoud Hammoud told Sputnik
On Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Ankara could launch a military operation in northern Syria east of the Euphrates in the coming days to clear the border area of Kurdish militias, who it considers to be terrorists, create a security zone and accommodate Syrian refugees. Meanwhile, the United States, which backs the Kurds, said that it would not support this operation. Damascus sees both sides as occupiers, viewing the potential operation as another assault on its sovereignty.
"Thirty percent of Syria's cultural heritage is located in areas of Al Hasakah and Qamishli. Any aggression by the Turkish army will destroy this entire heritage, just like they have already done in Afrin: all historic sites have been destroyed; they are conducting illegal archeological excavations with the help of bulldozers and heavy equipment. If they occupy these territories [as part of a new operation], they will inevitably destroy hundreds of historical heritage sites," Hammoud said.
The Syrian Foreign Ministry has repeatedly urged UNESCO to condemn the illegal archeological excavations and looting of artifacts by the United States, France, Turkey and forces loyal to them in occupied areas of Syria.
Hammoud told Sputnik back in October 2018 that the Syrian authorities had managed to return some 9,000 stolen artifacts. He also spoke about illegal archaeological excavations near Manbij, Raqqah and to the east of the Euphrates.
In his most recent comments to Sputnik, Hammoud estimated that the restoration of the Palmyra cultural heritage, which had been heavily damaged during the years of the occupation by the Islamic State terrorist group (banned in Russia), would take several years.
"The reconstruction of the Palmyra Museum the building itself will not take much time, only a few months, a maximum of one year. But the reconstruction of the artifacts will take several years," he explained.
Russia intends to help Syria rebuild the Museum of Palmyra and assist in other restoration efforts. Russian experts have already presented Syria with a 3D model of the ancient city, which will help them in these efforts.