On August 18th, 82-year-old Khaled al-Asaad, a prominent Syrian archaeologist, and the head of antiquities for the ancient city of Palmyra for more than 40 years, was brutally murdered by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In May 2015, ISIL seized control of Tadmur, which contains the historic ruins of the ancient city of Palmyra. Despite the danger that prevailed with ISIL’s previous murderous acts and destruction of other cultural heritage sites, Al-Asaad remained in the city to protect its treasures, and helped evacuate the city museum prior to ISIL's takeover.
“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms this murder…of a man who dedicated his life to preserving Syria’s cultural treasures, said U.S. State Department Spokesperson John Kirby.
“Like so many of ISIL’s victims, his life and extraordinary work stand in stark contrast to that of his barbaric killers,” he said.
“These attempts to erase Syria’s rich history will ultimately fail. ISIL’s damage and looting of historic sites in Syria and Iraq which have been preserved for millennia have not only destroyed irreplaceable evidence of ancient life and society but have also helped fund its reign of terror inside those countries.”
Mr. Kirby said, “As we respond to the brutality and suffering ISIL inflicts on the Syrian and Iraqi people, we continue to urge all parties in both countries and in the international community to deprive ISIL of this funding stream by rejecting the trafficking and sale of looted artifacts. All those who destroy important cultural property must be held accountable.”