1.         Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Syrian Arab Republic) (C 1229)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2006

Criteria  (ii)(iv)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger    2013-present

Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger

Destruction as well as ascertained and potential threats consequent to the armed conflict in Syria started in March 2011

Corrective measures identified

Not yet identified

Timeframe for the implementation of the corrective measures

Not yet identified

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1229/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0 (from 1998-2003)
Total amount approved: USD 35,000
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1229/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount provided to the six Syrian World Heritage properties for World Heritage, movable and intangible heritage: 2.46 million Euros by the European Union, USD 170,000 by the Flemish Government, 63,000 Euros by the Austrian Government, USD 200,000 by the German Government ; for cultural heritage under conflict: USD 200,000 by the Arab Regional Centre for World Heritage in Bahrain

Previous monitoring missions

Since the start of the conflict in March 2011, the security situation has not allowed any missions to be undertaken to this World Heritage property

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Before the conflict:

Since 2011:

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1229/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 15 January 2018, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report for the six Syrian World Heritage properties, which is available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1229/documents, and includes updated information, progress and difficulties in a number of conservation issues addressed by the Committee, as follows:

Restauration works and documentation have been carried out by the Syrian-Hungarian archaeological mission at the Chapel of the Crac des Chevaliers and adjacent courtyard. The mission removed the concrete layer on the roof, which allowed documenting stones, and replaced the isolation. It conducted studies for the roof drain water drain system of the Chapel as well as excavations for the draining system of the courtyard, and documented the frescos inside the Chapel. The report also indicates that consolidation and restauration works have started at the southwestern corner of Chapel.

On 27 March 2018, the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) submitted to the World Heritage Centre a preliminary project that foresees the implementation of tourism facilities and a cable car at Qal’at Salah El-Din. 

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

See General Decision 42 COM 36 of this Document on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The works carried out at the Chapel are part of the ‘Urgent restoration works of simple to medium complexity’ recommended by the Committee (Decision 41 COM 7A.48). These works are carried out despite the difficult situation, including reduced human and financial resources. On the images provided in the report, it is noticed that the stones used to build the parapet on the Chapel’s roof in preparation of the isolation works are newly-cut stone blocks that are incompatible with the historic building. The State Party is encouraged to continue implementing the recommendations of the Technical Assistance Workshop organized by the World Heritage Centre, and in particular, to reuse the original stones as much as possible, and supplement them, as much as the current circumstances allow it, with identical newly- extracted one from the quarry of origin.

The detailed 3D modeling of the Crac des Chevaliers has been completed with the support of UNESCO.

The implementation of a cable car at the World Heritage site would represent a threat to the Outstanding Universal Value of the site. It is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to abandon the project of a cable car, to limit interventions to emergency measures and urgent conservation activities until the situation improves and to submit to the World Heritage Centre for examination by the Advisory Bodies, a detailed project on the tourism facilities foreseen at the property accompanied by a Heritage Impact Assessment, before any work is implemented, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines.

It is recommended that the invited joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission to the property be carried out to examine the restoration works that have been undertaken and the foreseen ones, as soon as the situation allows. 

36.       General Decision on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic

The armed conflict in Syria started in March 2011 and has constantly escalated leading to significant violence and degradation of humanitarian conditions. It continues to inflict damage on the inscribed properties as well as on the 12 sites inscribed on the Tentative List. Sites continue to be damaged by shelling, fires, extensive illegal excavations, military use, construction violations, in addition to intentional destructions and inappropriate use of archaeological sites by internally displaced populations. 

On 15 January 2017, the State Party submitted a state of conservation report, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/sessions/42COM/documents/#state_of_conservation_reports, with detailed information on the destruction and damage at the six World Heritage properties. This report represents an official statement from the Syrian authorities and collates available information from the branches of the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) and from the local communities up to 31 December 2017. The State Party notes that as ground access in Syria for heritage experts is limited, the full extent of the damage to World Heritage properties cannot be assessed in detail. In particular, the report does not provide first-hand information on the Ancient Villages of Northern Syria and the Ancient City of Bosra that are exposed to the armed conflict, and thus does not allow a full understanding of the extent of damage at these properties.

The State Party reported on the actions carried out by the DGAM, despite the difficult working conditions, to monitor the World Heritage properties and cultural heritage in general, assess damages, undertake emergency conservation and risk mitigation actions whenever possible, and inventory built and movable heritage. The report also stressed the DGAM efforts in maintaining salaries for its staff in the inaccessible Ancient Villages of Northern Syria, and highlighted the positive role played by local communities in some cases to safeguard heritage and limit illegal excavations.

On 21 January 2018, the State Party provided updated information on the conservation of the sites inscribed on the Tentative List, which indicates the following:

Activities undertaken by UNESCO

Activities undertaken by the Advisory Bodies

The armed conflict situation in Syria and its continued escalation has affected the six World Heritage properties and has substantially limited capacities to adequately sustain and protect their Outstanding Universal Value. The properties have been increasingly threatened by ascertained and potential dangers, in particular the Ancient City of Aleppo, which has been extensively and increasingly destroyed, and which runs the risk of further irreversible destructions during the challenging recovery phase.

The illegal excavations across archaeological sites and tells in Syria are a major source for the illicit trafficking of cultural objects and are causing extensive and irreversible damages to those sites, many of which are on Syria’s Tentative List, as well as providing looted artifacts for sale in regional and international black markets.

It is recommended that the Committee commend the DGAM, heritage professionals in Syria and local communities who have made sustained efforts to protect cultural heritage and to monitor it closely.

The World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies will continue to support the State Party in the identification of the necessary corrective measures and in the development of a Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), for all six properties, as soon as the situation allows.

It is important that humanitarian and security actions be done in coordination with cultural heritage stakeholders, to avoid further irreversible damages to the properties, and allow for undertaking first aid measures for its cultural heritage. Furthermore, it is recommended that systematic documentation of all damage incurred at the World Heritage properties be duly pursued, whenever the situation allows, and that the Committee reiterate its call to the State Party to safeguard damaged properties through minimal first aid interventions to prevent theft, further collapse and natural degradation, and refrain from undertaking other measures until the situation allows for the development of a comprehensive strategy and action plan that respond to international standards and high-quality scientific methods.

With regard to post-conflict interventions, it is recommended that the Committee call on the State Party to plan the future of the World Heritage properties according to international conservation charters and standards, in full consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies.

It is recommended that the Committee call for international and national heritage professionals to continue to unite for the safeguarding of Syria’s cultural heritage; and to further support its safeguarding through earmarked funds and to contributions to the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund.

Until conditions improve, it is also recommended that the Committee urge all parties associated with the conflict in Syria to refrain from any action that can further damage the heritage of the country, in particular World Heritage properties and all sites included on the Tentative List, and to fulfil their obligations under international law, and in particular the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 of March 2017, in part by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage including the evacuation of World Heritage properties used for military purposes, and the halting of all damages that result from targeting World Heritage properties. It is also recommended that the Committee reiterate its suggestion that the State Party consider ratifying the Second Protocol (1999) of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage during times of Armed Conflict.

It is further recommended that the Committee also call upon all parties associated with the conflict in Syria and the international community, in particular the neighboring countries to Syria, to ensure effective measures for the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural objects, in line with the UN Security Council Resolution 2199.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7A.34

Note: the following reports on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic need to be read in conjunction with Item 36.

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decisions 41 COM 7A.48 and 41 COM 7A.50 adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Taking into account Decision 42 COM 7A.36 on the World Heritage properties of the Syrian Arab Republic,
  4. Takes note of the restoration works undertaken at the Chapel despite difficult conditions;
  5. Encourages the State Party to continue implementing the recommendations of the Technical Assistance Workshop organized by the World Heritage Centre, and in particular, while undertaking urgent restoration works, to reuse as much as possible the original stones, and supplement them with identical newly- extracted ones from the quarry of origin, as much as the current circumstances allow it;
  6. Urges the State Party to:
    1. Abandon the project of a cable car at Qal’at Salah El-Din,
    2. Limit interventions to emergency measures and urgent conservation activities until the situation improves,
    3. Submit to the World Heritage Centre, for examination by the Advisory Bodies, a detailed project on the tourism facilities foreseen at the property accompanied by a Heritage Impact Assessment, before any work is implemented, in conformity with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines;
  7. Calls on all UNESCO Member States to support emergency safeguarding measures, including through the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  8. Requests that the invited joint World Heritage Centre/ICOMOS/ICCROM Reactive Monitoring mission be carried to proceed to a comprehensive assessment of the state of conservation of the property and identify measures needed to reverse the decay and ensure the conservation and protection of the property, as soon as the security situation allows;
  9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019;
  10. Decides to retain the Crac des Chevaliers and Qal’at Salah El-Din (Syrian Arab Republic) on the List of World Heritage in Danger.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 7A.36

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7A.50, adopted at its 41st session (Krakow, 2017),
  3. Deplores the conflict situation prevailing in the country, the loss of human life and the degradation of humanitarian conditions;
  4. Taking note of the reports provided by the State Party regarding the state of conservation of the six Syrian World Heritage properties and of the sites inscribed on the Syrian Tentative List, commends the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) and all the heritage professionals and the local communities in Syria who are working on monitoring and protecting cultural heritage for their sustained efforts amidst extremely difficult conditions, but expresses its utmost concern at the damage occurred and the threats facing these properties and cultural heritage in general;
  5. Urges all parties associated with the situation in Syria to refrain from any action that would cause further damage to cultural heritage of the country and to fulfil their obligations under international law, and in particular the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 of March 2017, by taking all possible measures to protect such heritage, including the halting of all damages that result from targeting World Heritage properties, sites included in the Tentative List and other cultural heritage sites;
  6. Also urges the State Party to adopt measures for the evacuation of World Heritage properties being used for military purposes;
  7. Further urges the State Party and the international community to include recovery actions within the properties to the overall humanitarian, security and peace building response;
  8. Urges furthermore the State Party to safeguard damaged properties through minimal first aid interventions to prevent theft, further collapse and natural degradation, and to refrain from undertaking conservation and restoration work until the situation allows, for the development of comprehensive conservation strategies and actions that respond to international standards in full consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies;
  9. Launches an appeal to all Member States of UNESCO to cooperate in fighting against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage coming from Syria as per the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2199 of February 2015, and in engaging in the protection of cultural heritage during armed conflict as per the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2347 of March 2017, and reiterates its suggestion to the State Party to consider ratifying the Second Protocol (1999) of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Heritage during times of Armed Conflict;
  10. Requests the State Party to pursue the systematic documentation of all damage incurred by the World Heritage properties, whenever conditions allow, and to implement all possible risk mitigation measures, to inform on the development of the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the properties from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) and the identification of corrective measures for all six properties;
  11. Calls upon the international community to further support the safeguarding of Syrian cultural heritage through earmarked funds or through contribution to the UNESCO Heritage Emergency Fund;
  12. Also calls upon the international and national cultural heritage professionals to unite for the safeguarding of Syria’s cultural heritage, and pursue their ongoing initiatives in coordination with UNESCO;
  13. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, an updated report on the state of conservation of the properties and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019.

Decision Adopted: 42 COM 8C.2

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined the state of conservation reports of properties inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger (WHC/18/42.COM/7A, WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add and WHC/18/42.COM/7A.Add.2),
  2. Decides to retain the following properties on the List of World Heritage in Danger: