Libya, like Syria, is home to a prized array of temples, tombs, mosques and churches.
In parallel to the destructive conflicts plaguing countries of the Middle East, another war is being waged on the collective memory of the people in the region and their historic identity.
From Iraq to Syria, Yemen and Libya, the region’s cultural and archaeological heritage is being wiped out amid the appalling idleness of the international community and UNESCO, archaeology experts complained.
Grievances about the disappearing heritage of the region, considered the cradle of ancient civilisations, were voiced at a forum on the role of media in the protection of cultural heritage organised by local NGOs and the Swedish Cultural Institute in Alexandria, Egypt.
Military bases set up in the perimeter of archaeological sites, bombardment of museums and historical monuments, illegal excavations, plundering, looting and illicit trafficking of artefacts is what Syria’s heritage has been exposed to for seven years, said Syrian archaeologist Cheikhmous Ali, founder of the Strasbourg-based Association for the Protection of Syrian Archaeology (APSA).
“[The Islamic State (ISIS)] was not the only armed group plundering sites in Syria,” Ali said.