U.N. blue helmets to protect historical sites from ISIS

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ISIS militants in Palmyra. File photo

ARA News

ISTANBUL – On Saturday, Italy announced that UNESCO has approved its proposal to have the United Nation’s famous Blue Helmets protect heritage locations around the world from attacks by jihadist militants.

The Italian Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said in a statement that UNESCO has approved the deployment of the Cultural Blue Helmets to protect heritage sites that are at risk.  

“Nearly 53 countries voted in favour after the destruction of archeological sites in Syria’s Palmyra by the Islamic State (ISIS) extremists,” he added. 

Franceschini pointed out that the international community cannot stand back and watch ISIS terrorist attacks on Palmyra. 

“The permanent members of the security council had supported the idea.”

The U.N. peacekeepers, who are widely recognized with their blue helmets, would be able to benefit from the experience of Italy’s cultural and heritage police, who used to carry out training missions around the world, according to the Italian minister.

This peacekeeping force would mostly protect important sites at risk from terrorist attacks, natural disasters and the armed conflict in Syria and Iraq. 

“We call on the U.N. to as soon as possible define the operational aspects of this international task force,” Franceschini said. 

Speaking to ARA News, Syrian Kurdish archeologist Perwin Issa said: “Although ISIS radicals have not yet destroyed many of Palmyra’s antiquities since taking over the city (Tadmur) mid-May, the group is expected to demolish all these antiquities since they consider them as idols worshiped by people in pre-Islam era.”

In May, ISIS took over the ancient city of Palmyra following fierce battles with Pro-regime forces. The group has executed dozens of captured soldiers in the Roman amphitheater, destroying ancient shrines and Roman monuments. It also destroyed Shiite shrines, Assyrian monastery in Mosul, northern Iraq.

Reporting by: Egid Yousef

Source: ARA News

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