Syria’s ancient history faces new threats, UN says

PARIS (AP) — The U.N. is trying to come up with a plan to protect Syria’s cultural history, including hundreds of archaeological sites, ancient mosques and churches and artifacts that are being sold on the black market.

Irina Bokova, director general of UNESCO, said Thursday the U.N.’s cultural organization has learned from the pillaging and destruction that accompanied wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is trying to prioritize sites and encourage residents to protect them.

Among monuments destroyed was the 11th-century minaret of the Umayyad Mosque, which collapsed during fighting in April between government troops and rebels. The mosque, a UNESCO world heritage site, was the centerpiece of Aleppo’s walled Old City.

UNESCO invited Syria’s antiquities chief, who works for the government’s Culture Ministry, to lay out details of recent destruction.

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