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Trends in heritage destruction in North-East Syria

posted on 01.01.2017, 00:00 authored by Benjamin IsakhanBenjamin Isakhan, Antonio Gonzalez Zarandona
Since the onset of the civil war in 2011 and the rise of various militant factions, Syria has undergone an unprecedented period of human suffering and mass heritage destruction. Focusing on the evolving nature of heritage destruction since 2011, this report addresses heritage destruction in the north-eastern provinces of Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor, Homs and Hassakah at the hands of various militant factions, including the Islamic State (IS). To do so, this report charts the destruction along five key axes: conflict destruction, illicit looting, symbolic sectarianism, cultural cleansing, and pre-monotheistic iconoclasm. Identifying the changing nature of heritage destruction in these provinces and the trends in sites attacked can provide an overview of the motives driving the destruction and serves as a unique window into the ideologies that drive the perpetrators. More research is urgently needed to understand the precise nature, scope and variety of heritage destruction across these Syrian provinces, 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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Australian Department of Defence

Place of publication

Canberra, Australia

Commissioning body


Publication classification

A6 Research report/technical paper

Copyright notice

2017, Australian Department of Defence

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