For more than a year now, I have been expressing on behalf of UNESCO my deep concern about the dramatic humanitarian situation in Syria and the threats to the outstanding cultural heritage of the country, which bear testimony to its history and to its cultural identity. I have called upon all those involved in the conflict to ensure the respect and protection of this heritage.
The tragedy has reached new heights with the growing and serious destruction to the World Heritage City of Aleppo. After the damages on the Citadel and the burning of the Souqs, and previous damage to the Great Mosque last October, it has been reported that considerable destruction has taken place at the Mosque on Thursday 28 February, turning this place of peace and study, one of the most beautiful mosques of all Islamic culture, into a devastated battlefield, notably its museum and library of manuscripts.
Destroying the inheritance of the past, which is the legacy for future generations, serves no purpose except that of deepening hatred and despair and it further weaken the foundations for cohesion of Syrian society.
Once again, I urge all belligerents to stop such destruction and to respect the legacy of their past along with the integrity of human lives and to abide by all relevant international conventions. UNESCO stands ready to assist in all its fields of competence.