The Straits Times
Published on Sep 24, 2012

Syria's archaeological heritage falls prey to war


REYHANLI, Turkey (AFP) - Syria's extraordinary archaeological heritage has fallen prey to the fighting ravaging the country for more than 18 months, with destruction, theft and systematic looting on the rise.

In a country where corruption and trafficking of archaeological artefacts and treasures was already a chronic problem, widespread clashes and a power vacuum in some areas have led to an explosion of looting and illicit excavations.

"It is obvious that in such situations there is always an increase in looting, illegal excavations and smuggling," Veronique Dauge of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Centre told AFP by telephone.

"Remember what happened in Iraq in 2003."