Syrian government says Turkish shelling damaged ancient temple

Turkey's operation against the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia in Afrin began a week ago


Reuters January 28, 2018
Turkish shelling of the Kurdish-held Afrin region of Syria has seriously damaged an ancient temple. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

BEIRUT: The Syrian government and a war monitor said on Sunday that Turkish shelling of the Kurdish-held Afrin region of Syria had seriously damaged an ancient temple.

Ain Dara is an iron age temple with remains of large carved basalt blocks and wall reliefs. Pictures circulating online, which Reuters could not independently verify, showed an apparent shell crater in the site.

A statement from the Syrian government's antiquities department carried by Syrian state media called for international pressure on Turkey "to prevent the targeting of archaeological and cultural sites".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based war
monitor, said Ain Dara was exposed to Turkish shelling, causing
significant damage but no casualties.

The Turkish military was not immediately available for comment.

Turkey's operation against the Syrian Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) militia in Afrin began a week ago and has included heavy bombardment but limited advances by its army or allied Syrian rebel groups.

Erdogan says Turkey has launched new ground operation in Syria

The Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad has
condemned the Turkish assault, but it also opposes the YPG and
Kurdish aspirations for autonomy in northern parts of Syria.

Syria's civil war which began in 2011, has led to major damage to many historical remains including widespread destruction in the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Palmyra and the Old City of Aleppo.

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