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UNESCO Sounds Alarm Over Quake Damage to Cultural Sites in Turkey, Syria

UNESCO Sounds Alarm Over Quake Damage to Cultural Sites in Turkey, Syria
folder_openMiddle East... access_timeone year ago
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By Staff, Agencies

The UN cultural agency UNESCO said Tuesday it was ready to help after two sites listed on its World Heritage list in Syria and Turkey sustained damage in the devastating earthquake.

As well as damage to the old city of northern Syria’s Aleppo and the fortress in the southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir, UNESCO said at least three other World Heritage sites could be affected.

A UNESCO statement said it and partners have carried out an initial survey of the damage of the quake, which struck Monday, and said it would “provide assistance within its mandate." The agency added that it was “particularly concerned” about the old city of Aleppo, which has been listed as a World Heritage site in Danger since 2013 due to the war there.

“Significant damage has been noted in the citadel. The western tower of the old city wall has collapsed and several buildings in the souks [markets] have been weakened,” it said.

Aleppo was Syria’s pre-war commercial hub and considered one of the world’s largest continuously inhabited cities, boasting markets, mosques, and public baths. But a brutal siege imposed on rebels by government forces left it disfigured.

Syria's directorate of antiquities had already raised concern about the damage last week, saying parts of Aleppo's northern defensive walls had collapsed.

In Turkey, UNESCO said it was saddened by the "collapse of several buildings" at the World Heritage site of the Diyarbakir Fortress and the adjacent Hevsel Gardens. It emphasized that the entire area was an important center of the Roman, Sassanid, Byzantine, Islamic, and Ottoman periods.