Scottish heritage experts to help rebuild war-torn Syria

Heavily damaged buildings in a residential neighbourhood of the modern town of Palmyra after Syrian troops recaptured the city. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Heavily damaged buildings in a residential neighbourhood of the modern town of Palmyra after Syrian troops recaptured the city. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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Scottish Heritage experts will help rebuild war-torn Syria once fighting has ended.

Edinburgh World Heritage will be drafted in to help restore several of the country’s most historic sites, including the ancient cities of Aleppo, Damascus, and Bosra.

Bosses said “on-the-ground expertise” will be provided alongside “knowledge exchange” as soon as hostilities have stopped.

Many of Syria’s most celebrated World Heritage sites have been damaged following an onslaught of recent shelling, looting and military occupation.

Last year, satellite imagery showed Isis troops had destroyed key buildings in the historic city of Palmyra, where archaeological treasures date back to the Neolithic period.

Adam Wilkinson, director of Edinburgh World Heritage, said Edinburgh “leads the world in community-based heritage conservation within dynamic urban environments” and “stands ready to help the communities of Syria conserve and restore its urban heritage”. Chiefs said the city’s experts stood in a unique position to help due to their knowledge of conserving historic sites across a sprawling urban environment.

Syria is home to several of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities, forming a unique record of the development of human civilisation.

The announcement came at a lecture last night by Professor Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s director-general of antiquities and museums, on the destruction of the country’s priceless monuments and artefacts.

Speaking at the Royal College of Physicians in Edinburgh, he called on the international community to redouble its efforts to help Syria protect and rebuild its heritage “for the benefit of all humanity”.

He said: “We welcome Edinburgh World Heritage’s offer of help. Syria’s heritage belongs to its people, and to the people of the world. I look forward to building closer ties with the people of Edinburgh in the future.”

Brian Lang, chair of Edinburgh World Heritage, said: “The restoration of the archaeological and cultural treasures of Syria must become a key priority for the international heritage community over the coming years.