The religious and cultural heritage being ruined by Yemen's war

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tags: Yemen, Ancient Artifacts



Thumbnail Image - "Yemen war detailed map" by 0ali1 - Own work using: Yemen location map.svg by NordNordWest. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons.

Anybody who follows the international media will be aware that some terrible harm has been done to the world's spiritual and cultural heritage in the course of fighting in Syriaand Iraq; and that some of this destruction is a result of deliberate efforts by Islamic State fighters to eliminate all structures which are out of step with their own narrow understanding of Sunni Islam.

But there is another country in the region where a sectarian civil war, with an international dimension, is wreaking major damage to religious and architectural treasures, and that conflict is getting much less international attention. The country is Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition of Sunni Arab states has been waging war by air and land against the Houthis, a Shia rebel group who control the capital, Sana'a, and are denounced by their foes as a proxy for Iran.

The roster of antiquities damaged in the war in Yemen runs long. Missiles fired from the coalition's planes have obliterated a museum (where the fruits of an American-Yemeni archaeological dig were stored), historic caked-mud high-rise dwellings, 12th century citadels and minarets and other places whose importance to humanity's heritage has been recognised by the UN. The Great Dam of Marib, a feat of engineering that was undertaken 2,800 years ago, has been struck four times, most recently on August 18th. Antiquities experts fear for the oldest surviving fragment of the Koran, in a six-month war which has killed over 4,000 and injured 20,000.




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