Cairo, SANA- Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization “UNESCO” Irina Bokova said that the acts of destruction and looting of the archeological sites and illegally trafficking in them in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria “ISIS” should be condemned as “war crimes”.

“The stakes are high,” declared Bokova during the inaugural session of Cultural Property Under Threat (CPUT) Conference in Cairo on Wednesday. “The destruction and looting of archaeological sites and museums have reached unprecedented levels. The destruction of cultural heritage, the cultural cleansing, is being used as a tactic of war to terrify populations, to finance criminal activities and to spread hatred.”

“We must consider it for what it is: A war crime,” she stressed.

The conference is being held in Cairo in response to the destruction of ancient temples and artifacts in Iraq by the extremist Islamic State groups as well as the looting and smuggling of antiquities in Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Libya.

Chairman of the International Coalition for the Protection of Egyptian Antiquities Deborah Lear said that looting the antiquities in Syria and Iraq has brought millions of dollars to the terrorist organizations.

Lear added that the Conference aims at combating those who steal “our joint history,” indicating that the conference aims at “Unifying efforts to find a solution to that danger.”

For his part, Egyptian Antiquities Minister Mahmoud Damati warned against the danger threatening the region, indicating that the region is facing the danger of a direct and indirect destruction of the antiquities and the humanitarian heritage.

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R. al-Jazaeri/ Barry

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