MOSCOW (Sputnik) — In an article, published Monday in the Kommersant newspaper, the top Russian diplomat spoke about an unprecedented upsurge in terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa, which put their thousand-year-old treasures at risk.
Lavrov welcomed a bigger role of the international community, and specifically the United Nations, in tackling extremism, xenophobia, as well as racial and religious hatred.
"Efforts are urgently needed to defend the world’s cultural heritage, which has been badly damaged by barbaric actions of the ISIL," the Russian foreign minister emphasized.
"The 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict is a sound legal basis for stepping up joint efforts in this regard," he added.
Earlier in November, Lavrov suggested that UNESCO send a mission to Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, as soon as peace returns, to assess the damage done to the nations’ ancient treasures.
ISIL has been in control of large swathes of land in Syria and Iraq for well over a year. The group has become notorious for destroying ancient relics and temples, which it claims promote idolatry. Earlier this year, ISIL militants pillaged and vandalized museums in Iraq and attacked Roman-era temples in Palmyra.