The role normally played by monuments in conflict is that of passive and innocent observers, occasionally drawn into the fighting through their locations. In the Syrian conflict, monuments have been more deliberately used as pawns, as ideological weapons and as favoured strongpoints for combatants. The resulting damage to historical sites, particularly to the monumental centres of Aleppo and Palmyra, has been considerable. However, damage to heritage presents a small proportion of the harm compared to the destruction of civilian housing and facilities throughout the country and should not distract us from the irreplaceable loss of innocent life in the fighting. The country’s eventual recovery will require the return of refugees to their devastated communities, a precondition for any effort to restore the country’s rich monumental heritage.
- Hague Convention