Last month the Syrian Arab Army recaptured the Crusader castle Krak des Chevaliers, which was reportedly damaged during air strikes in 2013.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has expressed concern since the civil war began that the conflict could be devastating to the country’s important cultural sites.
Joshua Landis, the Director of the Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Oklahoma and the author of the blog Syria Comment, says the town of Maaloula was retaken by the Syrian government Wednesday.
“One of the last three towns where Aramaic, the language of Jesus Christ, is still spoken today,” Landis says. “The town has been emptied out. Two of the great monasteries that had been alive there since the Sixth Century are in ruins, [with] big holes through their domes.”
Landis says the destruction of Syria’s cultural underpinnings is similar to what happened in Iraq after the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, but on a much larger scale.
“There is no authority here. Syria was one of the jewels of the crown of the Middle East,” Landis says. “The most beautiful Crusader castle, Krak des Chevaliers, undisturbed, has been bombed by both sides because rebels took up and made it a stronghold. The government bombed it. It makes you want to cry, but I guess that's the price of war.”
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