Syria: Italy ready to be 'cultural peacekeepers' in Palmyra

Once it is freed from ISIS, Culture Minister Francheschini says

25 March, 20:23

    the historical city of Palmyra the historical city of Palmyra

    ROME - Italy is ready to send 'cultural peacekeepers' to the UNESCO-listed ancient Syrian city of Palmyra once it is freed from ISIS, Culture Minister Dario Franceschini told ANSA Friday. "We are ready", he said.

    Franceschini said "our blue helmets of culture aren't just an idea but an operational reality, a task force of Carabinieri and civilians, ready to intervene as soon as the international community asks us. We are the first and only country to have signed a protocol with UNESCO on this".

    He said "our work in these months has on the one hand sensitised and motivated the international community, from UNESCO to the United Nations, on the issue of safeguarding cultural heritage threatened or devastated by international terrorism, and on the other hand has set up an Italian task force. If Palmyra is the first occasion we will be called upon, that will be decided by UNESCO and the international community, which must also decide the timeframe, procedures and involvement of one or more countries".

    The issue was also discussed by Italian FM Paolo Gentiloni and his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Friday. "Moscow hopes that the operation carried out by Syrian troops with the support of the Russian air force" to retake Palmyra from Isis, "will end successfully in the near future", Lavrov said.

    Syrian and Russian forces are taking part to an massive offensive to retake the modern city of Palmyra, which sits very close to the ancient Unesco archaeological world heritage site,.

     

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