It's no secret that ancient Syrian relics and heritage sites can be counted among the many victims in the country's ongoing civil war. Smugglers, looters and even government forces have been seen stealing ancient artifacts—trading history for cash and guns. Though some of the damage to historical sites can hardly be helped—heavy fighting on the streets has taken its toll on Aleppo, one of the world's oldest cities—the damage has been far more widespread.
In a new report compiled by the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, UNITAR, the agency used satellite observations to get a sense of scale of the damage. According to a release, the organization found that 24 sites had been completely destroyed, 104 were severely damaged, 85 were moderately damage, and 77 ranked as “possibly damaged.”
According to Reuters, some of the damage was circumstantial—ancient fortresses can still make good modern-day bunkers...
Both sides in the conflict have used ancient fortresses as military bases. The army has positioned snipers on Aleppo's Citadel, one of the oldest and largest castles in the world.
Insurgent forces also overran the 900-year-old Crac des Chevaliers Crusader castle. The army retook it in March but only after months of bombardment.
…while some of it was more deliberate:
Radical Sunni Muslim insurgents have also destroyed ancient sites which they consider to be heretical.
The damaged sites, says the release, include “[a]reas such as Aleppo, where settlements have been in place for over 7,000 years, Damascus, Crac des Chevaliers, Raqqa and Palmyra.”
In the photos and captions above, released by the UN, you can see before and after photographs of a few of the damaged sites.