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Satellite Images Show Heritage Destruction

Posted on Sep, 25, 2014
Contributed to WCHV by Danielle
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satelliteAccording to a recent report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), five out of six of Syria’s Unesco World Heritage sites have been significantly damaged by the country’s civil war. Based on analysis of satellite images by the researchers historic structures across the country, including ancient mosques, government buildings and castles show signs of destruction with some reduced to rubble. According to the report the only site that appears to remain relatively unscathed is the ancient city of Damascus.

The city of Allepo is perhaps one of the worst sites of destruction. The northern Syrian city, which dates back to 2,000BC, has seen some of the heaviest fighting of the civil war. By analysis of images captured in 2011 and then again in 2014, reveal damage to the city’s Great Mosque – one of Aleppo’s most famous cultural sites, researchers have reported the major destruction.The Masque’s 50m-tall Seljuk minaret, dating from 1095 which was considered one of the most important monuments of medieval Syria, collapsed as a result of shelling in March. There are also two large craters along the mosque’s eastern wall. In addition, there is also significant damage to the south of Aleppo’s citadel, the location of many historical government buildings. Between December 2011 and August 2014, the city’s Khusriwiye Mosque was demolished and the Grand Serail – the former seat of the Aleppo governor – was heavily damaged as reported by AAAS and BBC.

Other sites which have been destroyed include the dome of the 15th Century Hammam Yalbougha an-Nasry which was one of Syria’s finest bathhouses, as well as the the ancient city of Bosra, located in the southern Daara governorate which contains ruined buildings from the Roman, Byzantine, and early Islamic periods.

Palmyra’s Greco-Roman and Persian ruins, located in the middle of the Syrian desert, were one of Syria’s main tourist attractions before the conflict. Satellite image analysis has revealed how the site and its surrounding area including its Roman theatre have suffered from the effects of shelling, activity by snipers as well as the presence of rocket launchers and tanks. There are also persistent reports of looting as BBC reports. The ancient sites of northern Syria, comprising eight parks and a total of 40 villages, have suffered due to their close proximity to a key Turkish border crossing, used as the entry point for supplies.

For satellite images and analysis, visit the American Association for the Advancement of Science report page.

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