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Heritage in Conflict: Interpreting Heritage Destruction across Syria and Iraq

posted on 2018-02-16, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan, antonio gonzalez zarandona
As a result of the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq, hundreds of culturally significant artefacts, archaeological sites, religious buildings and historical structures have been damaged or destroyed. Focusing on the evolving nature of heritage destruction in the two countries, this report identifies the different types of heritage destruction perpetrated by various actors in the Syrian civil war (2011–2017) and in Iraq since the US withdrawal and the rise of the Islamic State (IS) (2012–2017). To achieve this aim, this report charts the destruction done in Syria and Iraq by a wide array of different actors: militant jihadists; regime and rebel forces; sectarian militias; ethnic separatists; and by foreign intervention. Identifying the different types of heritage destruction and the array of perpetrators responsible can provide a unique insight into the complexity and evolving nature of the conflicts. More research is urgently needed to understand the precise nature, scope and variety of heritage destruction across the Middle East, the extent to which heritage destruction can be avoided, and to consider Australia’s role in international strategies to stanch this ongoing problem.



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Deaprtment of Defence

Place of publication

Canberra, A.C.T.



Publication classification

A6 Research report/technical paper

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