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A new Russian military base is threatening ancient ruins in Syria

Orient Net - Agencies 2016-05-17 05:47:00

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Satellite views of the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria suggest that Russia is building a military base on top of a World Heritage Site, possibly breaking international law protecting antiquities, Megavirals reported.

In March, Syrian, Iranian, and Russian forces retook Palmyra from ISIS forces. New satellite images of the reclaimed ruins suggest that a newly constructed Russian base is being built near the northern necropolis ruins, part of a UNESCO site designated “the monumental ruins of a great city that was one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world.”

The Russian base includes air defenses and armored vehicles, along with a newly constructed helicopter pad, notes a Monday report from the American School of Oriental Research (ASOR) Cultural Heritage Initiative, noting new images released by DigitalGlobe, a private group that provides satellite imagery.

“If they are building the base within the heritage site they would be in violation of the 1954 Hague Convention,” international antiquities law expert Patty Gerstenblith of DePaul University told BuzzFeed News. “To turn a cultural heritage site into a legitimate military target would put them in violation, along with any damage done to the site by construction”

Neither the Russian Embassy in the U.S. nor UNESCO responded to BuzzFeed news requests for comment on the reports.

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