GENEVA – “Extremists will never be able to erase history”, the UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, said on Monday, condemning the destruction of the Arch of Triumph in the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.
“This new destruction shows how terrified by history and culture the extremists are, because understanding the past undermines and delegitimizes the pretexts they use to justify these crimes and exposes them as expressions of pure hatred and ignorance,” Bokova said.
“Palmyra symbolizes everything that extremists abhor; cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue, the encounter of different peoples in this centre of trading between Europe and Asia,” she added.
Bokova’s statement comes amid reports of the destruction of the Arch of Triumph in Palmyra by militants of the Islamic State (ISIS) radical group.
“Despite their relentless crimes, extremists will never be able to erase history, nor silence the memory of this site that embodies the unity and identity of the Syrian people,” she said.
UNESCO Director-General vowed there would be no impunity for war criminals.
“The UNESCO would make every effort to ensure that those responsible for the destruction of the Arch would be tried and punished.”
The Arch of Triumph in the Syrian historical city of Palmyra was built by Septimius Severus between 193 and 211 AD, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
The Arch marked the junction between the immense Great Colonnade of the site and the Temple of Bel, also destroyed this year by ISIS militants who took over the ancient city in May after battles with Syrian army forces.
By: Lorin Silo
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