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Minaret of the Great Mosque of Aleppo, destroyed in fighting in 2013.

This is a list of heritage sites that were damaged during the Syrian Civil War.

Damage has been caused to all six World Heritage Sites in Syria along with numerous historic buildings, tell mounds, and archaeological sites.[1] Destructive effects of the conflict are caused by shelling, looting and army or militias occupation.


  • Archaeological Villages of Northern Syria (World Heritage Site)
  • Bosra (World Heritage Site)
  • Palmyra (World Heritage Site), Islamic citadel damaged by gunfire.[4]
  • Old city of Damascus (World Heritage Site)[1]
  • Medieval buildings in the Ancient City of Aleppo (World Heritage Site)[1][5]
  • Al-Madina Souq in Aleppo, world's largest covered historic market, destroyed and burnt by fire.[6]
  • Great Mosque of Aleppo, damaged during a Syrian rebel offensive. Wall destroyed by Rocket-propelled grenades.[7] Also damage to the prayer hall and main gate.[8]
  • Apamea and the wall and towers of the citadel of Qal'at al-Mudiq (Al-Madiq Castle). (Tentative World Heritage Site)
  • Mosque of Sermin[9]
  • Mosque of al-Tekkiyeh Ariha[10]
  • Al-Qusaayr Great Mosque
  • Mar Elias monastery[10][11]
  • Mosque al-Herak[12]
  • Oldest mosque in city of Sermin
  • Our Lady of Seydnaya Monastery
  • Monastery of Saint James the Mutilated (Qara)
  • Citadel of Aleppo[13]
  • Assyrian Temple at Tell Sheikh Hamad[2]
  • large parts of Hama
  • large parts of Homs
  • Tomb of Sheikh Dahur al-Muhammad in Rityan
  • unspecified sites and monuments in the Daraa District, in particular Dar al-Balad, Da'il and Inkhil.
  • Mosque al-Umary in Daraa (one of the oldest Islamic monuments)

Concern has also been raised about sites likely to be affected by shelling including the World Heritage Sites at the centres of Damascus and Aleppo and the tentative World Heritage Site of Norias of Hama.


There are twenty five cultural heritage museums dispersed around Syria, many with artifacts stored outside. It has been reported that Homs museum has been looted and that only the museums and monuments of the capital, Damascus are safe from looting and destruction from the escalating warfare between government and armed rebel militias. The Prime Minister of Syria, Adel Safar warned on 11 July 2011 that "the country is threatened by armed criminal groups with hi-tech tools and specialized in the theft of manuscripts and antiquities, as well as the pillaging of museums" and called for increased security measures. This warning about the future situation has been interpreted[by whom?] as encouragement for the regime to participate in looting, as is suggested [by whom?] to have happened before in the times of Hafez al-Assad.[2]

  • Hama museum was also reported to have been looted[by whom?] on 14 July 2011 and a golden, Aramaic statue dating to the 8th century BC was stolen. The doors were not damaged in the incident, possibly indicating staff responsibility for the looting.
  • The Museum of Raqqa, known as the Qala'at Jabar Museum was also looted on 1 May 2012.[by whom?] Stolen items included three figurines of the goddess Ishtar and pottery dating to the third millennium BC.
  • Roman mosaics were looted from Apamea with Roman floors were ripped up with bulldozers.[by whom?]
  • Two capitols from the colonnade of Decumanus, the main (Roman) road in Apamea.
  • The Museum of Deir ez-Zor
  • The Maarat al-Numan Museum[2]

Security at the Museum of Idlib has also been raised as a concern by Syrian archaeological heritage under threat. The lack of documentation of antiquities in the country has created a severe problem protecting the collections. Looting carries a fifteen-year prison sentence in Syria.[14]

Latest reports indicate a growing black market in the region where antiquities are being traded for weapons by the rebels. Time Magazine commented that continued looting will "rob Syria of its best chance for a post-conflict economic boom based on tourism, which, until the conflict started 18 months ago, contributed 12% to the national income."[1]

Army or militias occupation

Damage to ancient sites can be caused due to army occupation by encampments, entrenchment of military vehicles and weapons. It can also be caused during movement of materials for construction, souvenirs or even target practice.

  • Palmyra (World Heritage Site), tank occupation, statues and reliefs damaged.[4]
  • Apamea (Tentative World Heritage Site), bulldozers digging into the citadel mound.[citation needed]
  • Bosra (World Heritage Site), damaged by tanks.[citation needed]
  • Tell Rifa'i, damaged by soldiers using it as a camp.[citation needed]
  • The Chateau de Chmemis in Salamyeh, shelters for tanks excavated at the base of the citadel.[citation needed]
  • Khan Sheikhoun, shelters for tanks on the slopes of the tell.[citation needed]
  • Tell Afis, damaged by encampments.[citation needed]
  • Tell A'zaz, damaged by installation of heavy weaponry.[citation needed]
  • Deir Mar Musa al-Habashi monastery, possibly damaged during army search.[citation needed]
  • Kafr Nubbel rock shelters, damaged during searches for deserters.[citation needed]
  • Qal Markab, damaged by installation of heavy weaponry.[citation needed]
  • Tell Nebi Mend, damaged by installation of heavy weaponry.[citation needed]
  • Homs Qal, tanks and heavy weaponry installation.[citation needed]
  • Qal Hama, tanks and heavy weaponry installation.[citation needed]

UNESCO reaction

On 30 March 2012 Irena Bokova, the Director-General of UNESCO made a public appeal for the protection of Syria's cultural heritage and expressed "grave concern about possible damage to precious sites."[15]

On 2 October, Bokova issued a statement of regret about the destruction and fire that burnt the ancient souk in the old city of Aleppo. Calling it a "crossroads of cultures since the 2nd millennium BC". She called on the parties involved to comply with the Hague Convention of 1954 on the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict. She furthermore promised to send a team to assess the situation and provide assistance for emergency situations in order to protect Aleppo's heritage and to mitigate the effects of the cultural disaster and to avoid further damage.[16]

In June 2013, UNESCO placed Syria's six World Heritage Sites on the organization's list of endangered sites.[17]


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Aryn Baker, Syria’s Looted Past: How Ancient Artifacts Are Being Traded for Guns, TIME World, 12 September 2012. (Archived at WebCite)
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Robert Fisk: Syria's ancient treasures pulverised". The Independent. 5 August 2012. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  3. "Latest victim of Syria air strikes: Famed Krak des Chevaliers castle". 13 July 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Colvin, Mark., Fears for Syria's lost heritage, PM on ABC News, September 3, 2012. (Archived at WebCite)
  5. Aleppo's ancient city a victim of Syrian war, Reuters, 28 August 2012 (Archived at WebCite)
  6. Souk burns as Aleppo fight rages, Irish Times, 29 September, 2012. (Archived at WebCite)
  7. Syria rebels battle army in landmark Aleppo mosque, The Daily Star (Lebanon), October 10, 2012. (Archived at WebCite)
  8. Syria insurgents damage historical mosque in Aleppo, Press TV, October 2012. (Archived at WebCite)
  9. قصف مأذنة الجامع القديم - سرمين - 27-2-2012 on YouTube
  10. 10.0 10.1 The destruction and shelling of sites (Archived at WebCite)
  11. Al-Qusair - Destruction monastére Mar Elias القصير- دمار في دير مار الياس on YouTube
  12. اثار القصف على المسجد العمري بالدبابات بالحراك on YouTube
  13. Aleppo citadel hit by shelling, says opposition (Archived at WebCite)
  14. Cunliffe, Emma., Damage to the Soul: Syria's cultural heritage in conflict, Durham University and the Global Heritage Fund, 1 May 2012 (Archived at WebCite)
  15. UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "Director-General of UNESCO appeals for protection of Syria’s cultural heritage, Friday, March 30, 2012.". Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  16. "Bokova, Irena., UNESCO Director general deplores destruction of ancient aleppo markets, a world heritage site,, 2 October 2012.". Retrieved 20 November 2014. 
  17. "Six Syrian heritage sites declared endangered, 21 June 2013.". Retrieved 20 November 2014. 

External links

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