The common duty to restore Iraq's ancient heritage

THE militant Islamic State group left a bloody trail of destruction in its wake before it was uprooted from large parts of Syria and Iraq after its nearly three-year reign of terror. 

The human toll was considerable and the terrorist outfit, operating from ungoverned spaces within Syria and Iraq, still manages to draw blood. Along with its murderous purges, IS also wreaked havoc across the Fertile Crescent by attacking priceless cultural spaces and artefacts that are the common heritage of humanity. 

In particular, the northern Iraqi city of Mosul — which at one time served as the ‘capital’ of IS — from where its late so-called ‘caliph’ Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi held forth, suffered particular damage as the militants rampaged through the ancient settlement. 

However, there is a positive development on this front, as Unesco has undertaken a project called Revive the Spirit of Mosul which aims to rebuild the destroyed heritage of the city. 

Work is already underway to reconstruct mosques and churches that were desecrated by IS, including the iconic centuries-old Al Nuri mosque. To heal the rifts created by the fanatical outfit, Muslims are helping rebuild churches, while Christians are doing their bit to restore mosques. 
Of course, Mosul was not the only ancient site vandalised by IS. The Roman oasis of Palmyra in Syria; the ancient town of Nineveh in Iraq as well as a number of other mosques, churches and monasteries were attacked by the outfit in an orgy of hate and violence. 

Efforts such as the Unesco programme must be undertaken to restore other ancient treasures damaged by IS. True, the security situation in parts of Syria and Iraq is still fragile, but where circumstances allow, work must be started to rebuild what the terrorist group sought to destroy. 

It was in this part of the world that some of the earliest civilisations on earth started to take shape. Therefore, humanity has a common duty to restore the ancient heritage for the benefit of future generations.

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