Syrian Interim Government: Department of Protection of Syrian Cultural Heritage Begins Its Work

The Ministry of Culture and Family Affairs in the Syrian interim government announced the starting the work of the Department of Protection of the Syrian Cultural Heritage in a move described as important by the Deputy Minister of Culture and Family Affairs “in light of the systematic of looting and illegal digging for antiquities, which caused large losses and considerably damaged museums, archaeological sites and historic structures. The regime’s indiscriminate bombing led to the destruction of the Ottoman Gate in Deir Ezzor and the Christian cemetery dating back to the Middle Ages and destroyed of the City’s old quarter, the synagogue and the Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo. The Department coordinate their efforts with the “UNESCO” and other international organizations concerned with the affairs of antiquities and museums, such as “ICOMOS, ICCROM, AND ICOM” and the International Council of Museums, as well as local councils and non-governmental organizations which are making efforts to protect the cultural heritage in the opposition-held areas. Amr Al-Azm, head of the Department, said the “we will provide a structure for the protection of archaeological heritage sites.” A training program was announced for those in charge of the protection of museums and representatives of civil society organizations during the month of June. The program aims for training on the protection of museums, libraries and a range of archaeological sites that are in real danger. The training program will be executed in cooperation with Semaan Foundation, the University of Pennsylvania and a the U.S. Institute of Peace and the of “The Day After” in Brussels Organization. The Department will also will provide the necessary conditions for the documentation and the evaluation of the requirements. (Source: Syrian Coalition)