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UNESCO is warning that Syria’s rich cultural heritage is being devastated by the country’s civil war, which is now in its third year.

The United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said fighting has damaged historical sites and buildings throughout the country, including the Umayyad Mosque in Aleppo, and the Crac des Chevaliers castle, which dates back to the 13th-century Crusades.

UNESCO said looters have been plundering archaeological sites, stealing artifacts, and putting them on sale on the black market.

It said organized armed gangs have been taking advantage of a lack of security to loot historic sites.

UNESCO chief Irina Bokova urged Syria’s warring parties to take measures to prevent further damage to Syria's historic sites, describing them as being "among the most precious in the Islamic world."

Based on reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP
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