The International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property (ICCROM) today expressed outrage at the reported destruction by the militant group ISIS of the 1st century Temple of Bel, one of the finest and best preserved monuments of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palmyra.
“The attack on the Temple of Bel is just the latest but unfortunately not the first act of incomprehensible barbarism committed against our common heritage,” said ICCROM’s Director-General Stefano De Caro.
Media reports on Monday quoted the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights as saying the militant group ISIS tried to blow up the Temple of Bel on Sunday. The destruction of the main temple complex was confirmed through satellite images.
Last week ISIS claimed the destruction of a smaller temple of Baal Shaamin located nearby. The reports came just days after the alleged murder by ISIS of Khalid Al Asaad, renowned archaeologist and former General Manager of the Site of Palmyra.
De Caro noted that the international community must do more to protect not only the ancient buildings and ruins but also the people who preserve them.
“We have reached a situation where priceless cultural assets of global significance, which have often been restored after careful research by the Syrian and international scientific communities and maintained at a very high intellectual and economic cost for the common benefit, are now being damaged or destroyed. Moreover, the people who try to preserve them for future generations are being attacked with total impunity,” said De Caro.