Syrian government says Maaloula’s sites sacked by rebels

According to a report by the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums for the Rif Damascus governorate, Christian sites in the historic town of Maaloula have suffered substantial damage.

al-monitor A view shows damage inside the St. Takla Monastery in Maaloula, northeast of Damascus, April 20, 2014. Photo by REUTERS/khaled al-Hariri.

Topics covered

syrian conflict, syria, jabhat al-nusra, christian communities, christian church

May 5, 2014

An official report issued by the Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) for the Rif Damascus governorate revealed the destruction inflicted upon the city of Maaloula and its historical Christian sites, weeks after the army regained control of the city. This report was issued after a visit made by a specialized mission of the Directorate to probe the level of losses incurred by the city.

The Syria Steps website published yesterday [May 2] a government report that lists the damage inflicted upon the city, its surroundings, the hill of the semi-destroyed Safir Maaloula Hotel and the caves that are in the vicinity of the town. These caves have been dug in search of treasures and have been used for fortifications.

The “armed opposition” has damaged historical Christian sites in the city, destroyed sites and altars, painted over traditional icons and paintings, removed and burned crosses, searched for treasures under altars and in tombs, and searched among the remains of monks and nuns.

As-Safir learned from informed sources that there were two categories of looting operations; the first type was organized by “complicit traders and fighters” who were aware of the value of historical sites that were looted, and the second was carried out by amateur fighters who tried to exploit their “stay” in the town to achieve gains.

Al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra is the most powerful among the opposition battalions that seized Maaloula during the second round of battles at the end of last year. The report illustrates the looting operations that took place in the town and affected its ancient and modern churches. However, the estimated financial cost of the losses incurred has yet to be determined.

The following is the report of the DGAM:

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