UNESCO adds 6 Syrian World Heritage sites to danger list

The UNESCO World Heritage Committee decided Thursday to place six World Heritage sites in Syria on its list of sites in danger due to the ongoing armed conflict in the country.

In a statement released by the 37th World Heritage Committee Meeting underway in Phnom Penh, it said the listing of the six historical sites is aimed at drawing attention to the risks they are facing because of the "situation in the country".

"The danger listing is intended to mobilize all possible support for the safeguarding of these properties which are recognized by the international community as being of outstanding universal value for humanity as a whole," the statement said.

The six sites are the ancient city of Damascus, Bosra and Aleppo, the oasis of Palmyra, the castles of Crac des Chevaliers and Qal'at Salah El-Din, and the ancient villages of northern Syria.

The decision was taken as part of the World Heritage Committee's review of the state of conservation of World Heritage sites already inscribed on the World Heritage List.

According to a UNESCO document, the List of World Heritage in Danger is designed to inform the international community of conditions which threaten the very characteristics for which a property was inscribed on the World Heritage List, and to encourage corrective action.

Inscribing a site on the List of World Heritage in Danger allows the World Heritage Committee to allocate immediate assistance from the World Heritage Fund to the endangered property. It also alerts the international community to these situations in the hope that it can join efforts to save these endangered sites, it added.

Armed conflict and war, earthquakes and other natural disasters, pollution, poaching, uncontrolled urbanization and unchecked tourist development pose major problems to World Heritage sites.

The World Heritage Committee will close on June 27 near Angkor Wat Temple in the northern province of Siem Reap.