List of heritage sites damaged during the Syrian Civil War

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

This is a list of heritage sites that were damaged or destroyed during the Syrian Civil War. Damage has been caused to numerous historic buildings, tell mounds and archaeological locations, including all six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country.[1] Destructive effects of the conflict are caused by shelling, looting and rebel occupation.


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 the museum at Homs has been looted and that only the museums and monuments of Damascus are safe from looting and destruction from the escalating warfare between government and armed rebel militias. Syria's Prime Minister, 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.[2]

Security at the Museum of Idlib has also been raised as a concern by the organization 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.[17]

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.


Several cultural heritage sites in Syria have been deliberately destroyed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from 2014 onwards, including:

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."[19]

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.[20]

In June 2013, UNESCO placed Syria's six World Heritage Sites on the organization's list of endangered sites.[21]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 Aryn Baker, "Syria's Looted Past: How Ancient Artifacts Are Being Traded for Guns",, 12 September 2012.(Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  2. 1 2 3 4 "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". Middle East Online. 13 July 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  4. 1 2 Colvin, Mark. "Fears for Syria's lost heritage",, 3 September 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  5. Aleppo's ancient city a victim of Syrian war,, 28 August 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  6. Souk burns as Aleppo fight rages, Irish Times, 29 September, 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  7. [ Syria rebels battle army in landmark Aleppo mosque, The Daily Star (Lebanon), 10 October 10, 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  8. Syria insurgents damage historical mosque in Aleppo,, 11 October 2012. (Archived October 13, 2012, at WebCite)
  9. 1 2 The destruction and shelling of sites (Archived August 12, 2012, at WebCite)
  10. Al-Qusair - Destruction monastére Mar Elias القصير- دمار في دير مار الياس on YouTube
  11. اثار القصف على المسجد العمري بالدبابات بالحراك on YouTube
  12. In the monastery of Sednaya (or Seydnaya), apparently founded by the Emperor Justinian – the people of the village still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus – shellfire has damaged the oldest section of the building, which dates back to 574. The Umayyad Mosque in Deraa, one of the oldest Islamic-era structures in Syria, built at the request of the Caliph Omar Ibn al-Khattab, has also been damaged.
  13. Aleppo citadel hit by shelling, says opposition,, 11 August 2012; accessed 27 August 2015.
  14. (Archived August 14, 2012, at WebCite)
  15. Safeguarding Syrian cultural heritage,; accessed 27 August 2015.
  16. Museum of Raqqa webpage,; accessed 27 August 2015.
  17. Cunliffe, Emma."Damage to the Soul: Syria's cultural heritage in conflict", Durham University and the Global Heritage Fund, 1 May 2012. (Archived August 12, 2012, at WebCite)
  18. Syrian looters in bulldozers seek treasure amid chaos,, 28 July 2013; accessed 27 August 2015.
  19. UNESCO World Heritage Centre (30 March 2012). "Director-General of UNESCO appeals for protection of Syria's cultural heritage". Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  20. "UNESCO Director General deplores destruction of ancient Aleppo markets". 2 October 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  21. "Six Syrian heritage sites declared endangered". 21 June 2013. Retrieved 20 November 2014.


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