Syria has been at the crossroads of culture and religion for millennia. The world’s first agricultural societies are thought to have sprung upon its fertile plains, and Damascus is one of the longest continually inhabited cities in the world, with early temples dating back an estimated 5,000 years. Alexander the Great’s Macedonian lieutenants built vast cities in Palmyra and Apamea, and the Apostle Paul sheltered in Damascus after his conversion to Christianity. Some of the country’s Islamic mosques, still in use today, were built during the Prophet Muhammad’s time.

Unfortunately, the heavy fighting between the Syrian Army and Jihadist “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) terrorists, in addition to the presence of a large amount of Al Qaeda militants, has been destroying many historic sites and leading many terrorists to steal artifacts and sell them in the black market in return for weapons. Foreign Jihadis have no appreciation for Syria’s heritage and are thus willing to trade Syria’s history for weaponry, causing even more death and destruction. Al Qaeda is responsible for the intentional destruction of many historic sites around the world from the ancient Buddha of Bamiyan in Afghanistan to mausoleums of Sufi saints in Timbuktu in Mali under the claim that such edifices are a form of idolatry.

Sites such as ancient preserved Greek and Roman ruins, Byzantine cities in northern Syria, Aleppo’s old Arab architecture, and Homs’s Crusader castle/fortress of Krak des Chevaliers have been witnessing heavy damage and are in danger of undergoing even more destruction. As they were about to get defeated by the Syrian Army, FSA terrorists torched Aleppo’s Old Souk, the world’s longest and oldest ancient market dating from the 12th century, in an effort to withdraw without suffering a large number of casualties.

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