Conservation Heritage News Syrian Arab Republic

Unesco adds Syrian heritage sites to “danger list”

The country’s ancient landmarks have been caught in the crossfire of conflict between rebels and troops loyal to the president

In danger: the ancient city of Aleppo in Syria. Photo: © Silvan Rehfeld

In an unsurprising move, Unesco today added all six of Syria’s World Heritage Sites, including the ancient stronghold of Aleppo, to its “danger list”. For more than two years, the country’s cultural heritage has been caught in the crossfire of the escalating conflict between Syrian rebels and troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which the United Nations estimates has led to the death of around 100,000 people.

“Due to the armed conflict situation in Syria, the conditions are no longer present to ensure the conservation and protection of the outstanding universal value of the six World Heritage properties” in the country, Unesco reports in a statement. It goes on to say that “several sites have been inscribed on this list because of the difficulty of the State Party to control the threats as a result of political instability, civil unrest or because the management authority has problems managing the property as a result of insecurity due to the presence of armed bandits, such as narco-traffickers”.

The historic city of Aleppo has been at the centre of some of the fiercest fighting in the region: in 2012, its ancient souk (market) was torched and the minaret of the city’s oldest Ummayyad era mosque was destroyed in late April.

Meanwhile, the committee, which is currently holding its annual meeting in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, has removed Iran’s ancient desert citadel of Bam from its “Danger List”. The site, which was added in 2004 following a major earthquake, was removed earlier this week after experts applauded recent efforts to conserve and manage the site.

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