List of heritage sites damaged during the Syrian civil war

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Krak des Chevaliers, a World Heritage Site, coming under fire during the Syrian Civil War.

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.[22]

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]

Moreover, there were reports about looting and illegal excavations by pro-Turkish militia in Tell Halaf and Cyrrhus.[23] Meanwhile, the pro-opposition SOHR has claimed that a pro-Iranian militia had excavated Tar as Sarayim in the eastern Homs Governorate.[24]

Army or militias occupation[edit]

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[edit]

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."[27]

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.[28]

In June 2013, UNESCO placed Syria's six World Heritage Sites on the organization's list of endangered sites.[29] Subsequently UNESCO issued its Five years of conflict: the state of cultural heritage in the Ancient City of Aleppo Report in 2018.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Aryn Baker, "Syria's Looted Past: How Ancient Artifacts Are Being Traded for Guns",, 12 September 2012.(Archived September 20, 2012, at the Wayback Machine)
  2. ^ a b c d "Robert Fisk: Syria's ancient treasures pulverised". The Independent. 5 August 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-08-06. Retrieved 5 August 2012.
  3. ^ "Latest victim of Syria air strikes: Famed Krak des Chevaliers castle". Middle East Online. 13 July 2013. Archived from the original on 2 October 2013. Retrieved 14 July 2013.
  4. ^ a b Colvin, Mark. "Fears for Syria's lost heritage",, 3 September 2012. (Archived June 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine)
  5. ^ Aleppo's ancient city a victim of Syrian war,, 28 August 2012. ([1])
  6. ^ Souk burns as Aleppo fight rages, Irish Times, 29 September, 2012. (Archived September 30, 2012, at the Wayback Machine)
  7. ^ Syria rebels battle army in landmark Aleppo mosque, The Daily Star (Lebanon), 10 October 10, 2012. ([ Archived October 14, 2012, at the Wayback Machine)
  8. ^ a b The destruction and shelling of sites (Archived July 5, 2012, at the Wayback Machine)
  9. ^ Al-Qusair - Destruction monastére Mar Elias القصير- دمار في دير مار الياس on YouTube
  10. ^ اثار القصف على المسجد العمري بالدبابات بالحراك on YouTube
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Aleppo citadel hit by shelling, says opposition Archived 2012-08-16 at the Wayback Machine,, 11 August 2012; accessed 27 August 2015.
  13. ^ ("THE DAILY STAR :: News :: Middle East :: Aleppo citadel hit by shelling, says opposition". Archived from the original on August 16, 2012. Retrieved 2015-09-24.)
  14. ^ "Ancient Syrian temple damaged in Turkish raids against Kurds". timesofisrael. Archived from the original on 2018-01-30. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  15. ^ "Syrian government says Turkish shelling damaged ancient temple". reuters. Archived from the original on 2018-01-28. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  16. ^ a b Alaa Haddad, Issam Ballouz, Rami Alafandi (2018). "Bayt Ghazala | بيت غزالة | Report about missing ʿAjami wooden panels from Bayt Ghazala (Aleppo) | تقرير حول فقدان خشبيات العجمي في بيت غزالة (حلب)" (PDF). L.I.S.A. WISSENSCHAFTSPORTAL GERDA HENKEL STIFTUNG. Archived from the original on 24 January 2019. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  17. ^ David, Jean-Claude et François Cristofoli (2019) Alep, la maison Ghazalé. Histoire et devenirs. Editions Parentheses, 176 p. ISBN 978-2-86364-323-5
  18. ^ a b c UNESCO (2019). "Five years of conflict: the state of cultural heritage in the Ancient City of Aleppo; A comprehensive multi-temporal satellite imagery-based damage analysis for the Ancient City of Aleppo (ara)". Retrieved 2020-07-10.
  19. ^ Safeguarding Syrian cultural heritage Archived 2015-08-28 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 27 August 2015.
  20. ^ Museum of Raqqa webpage Archived 2015-07-27 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed 27 August 2015.
  21. ^ Birthe Hemeier und Isber Sabrine, ed. (9 September 2021). Kulturraub - Fallbeispiele aus Syrien, Irak, Jemen, Ägypten und Libyen. (in German). Mann Reimer Verlag. pp. 31–46. ISBN 978-3-496-01669-4. Retrieved 2021-10-22.
  22. ^ Cunliffe, Emma."Damage to the Soul: Syria's cultural heritage in conflict", Durham University and the Global Heritage Fund, 1 May 2012. (Archived July 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine)
  23. ^ "مطالبات لأنقرة بوقف نهب الآثار السورية المسروقة وإعادتها". (in Arabic). 22 November 2020.
  24. ^ "المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان: مليشيا الحرس الثوري الإيراني تسرق الآثار السورية من بادية دير الزور". (in Arabic). 9 January 2021.
  25. ^ Syrian looters in bulldozers seek treasure amid chaos Archived 2017-02-26 at the Wayback Machine,, 28 July 2013; accessed 27 August 2015.
  26. ^ [2] Archived 2017-02-13 at the Wayback Machine,, 12 February 2017; accessed 12 February 2017.
  27. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Centre (30 March 2012). "Director-General of UNESCO appeals for protection of Syria's cultural heritage". Archived from the original on 2014-10-18. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  28. ^ "UNESCO Director General deplores destruction of ancient Aleppo markets". 2 October 2012. Archived from the original on 2014-12-08. Retrieved 20 November 2014.
  29. ^ "Six Syrian heritage sites declared endangered". 21 June 2013. Archived from the original on 2015-02-10. Retrieved 20 November 2014.


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