BERLIN – The UN’s cultural agency said Monday the destruction of antiquities and heritage sites in conflict zones by the Islamic State and other groups could amount to war crimes.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee adopted a resolution condemning “intentional attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education,
art, science or charitable purposes and historic monuments,” saying they “may amount to war crimes.” The committee, meeting in Bonn, noted the Islamic State’s destruction of the ancient city of Hatra in Iraq and expressed “deep concern” about the Syrian archaeological gem of Palmyra, which the group captured in May. Both are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It said “irreplaceable cultural treasures” are threatened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Syria and Yemen as are natural world heritage sites in Niger, Congo and other African nations.