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The historic city center of Aleppo has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1986, but Director of Aleppo's Department of Antiquities Khaled al-Masri told Sputnik that the organization is among those that have failed to deliver on their pledge to help local authorities restore ancient neighborhoods destroyed during the Syrian conflict.
"Representatives of numerous international communities and many organizations, with UNESCO being the most prominent one, came to us. However, they have not provided any assistance thus far," he said, adding that these organizations have failed to meet their commitments.
Khaled al-Masri also mentioned that UNESCO held a meeting in Beirut, with issues relating to restoring the Old City of Aleppo on the agenda. The event "was aimed at reviewing the situation in the historic city center, assessing risks and going through opportunities for assistance on the part of international organizations" he detailed.
The official urged UNESCO to encourage state and private organizations responsible for Syrian artefacts to make every effort to help the Department of Antiquities in its work. He also said that the department "has nearly finished assessing the damage inflicted" on the ancient city of Aleppo.
For its part, UNESCO said that it "remains fully engaged with Syrian antiquities officials and all its partners" when it comes to preserving Syrian heritage, indicating that this process will last for a long period of time. "The situation requires extreme vigilance and constant international cooperation at the highest level for the coming decades," the UN agency said in a press release.
Numerous ancient buildings and quarters in the Old City of Aleppo were ruined between 2012 until late 2016 when the city was partially controlled by foreign-sponsored radical armed groups fighting against President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian Arab Army, assisted by Russia, Iran and its local allies, liberated the key city in December.
The list of heritage sites that were damaged or destroyed in Aleppo in the last five years include al-Madina Souq, the largest covered historic market in the world, the Great Mosque of Aleppo and the Citadel, deemed to be one of the oldest and largest castles in the world.
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