UN to send peacekeepers to protect Syrian heritage

Palmyra before IS moved in
Palmyra before IS moved in

The UN has agreed to send peacekeepers to Syria, in an effort to protect the country’s World Heritage sites from Islamic State.

The Guardian reports that Italy proposed the move, following the destruction of ancient Roman sites including Palmyra. The Italian Culture Minister, Dario Franceschini, said that 53 countries, as well as permanent members of the UN Security Council, had voted in favour of the idea.

“Faced with IS terrorist attacks and the terrible images of Palmyra, the international community cannot stand back and watch,” Franceschini was quoted saying.

While UNESCO has made several strong-worded statements on the destruction of World Heritage sites by IS, it has been unable to stop the vandalism. From May 2015 until now, IS militants have destroyed several key parts of the 3,000 year-old Palmyra complex. UNESCO has vowed however, to work with the International Criminal Court “to make sure that the perpetrators of the destruction are tried and punished”.

Islamic militants have also been responsible for the destruction of World Heritage sites in Timbuktu, northern Mali.

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