Dozens of members of the Antiquities Directorate and Civil Institutions in al-Shahba canton gathered at Berxwedan Camp's square to make a statement about the Turkish shelling of the ancient Kaluta Castle in Sherawa district, holding pictures documenting the Turkish occupation's violation of archaeological sites.
The statement was read in Arabic by Antiquities Directorate's Administrator Saleh Sino and in English by Nariman Hussein.
The statement stated, "For more than three years, the Turkish state has been destroying the cultural heritage of the Syrian region of Afrin by sabotaging and bulldozing archaeological sites and hills as well as religious sites belonging to different religions and sects in the region, as the Directorate of Antiquities in Afrin region has documented more than 55 archaeological sites and hills and about 20 religious shrines that were vandalized and destroyed directly by the occupation authorities and its terrorist factions.
The shelling of Kaluta Castle on 06-06-2021 A.D. was a clear example of the Turkish state's barbarism and hostility to the peoples of the region and the civilization that arose on its soil thousands of years ago. Kaluta Castle is considered one of the sacred sites for the people of the region and adherents of the Christian religion, especially the Maronite community, due to the close connection between the site and the history of Saint Mar Maron who lived and became a hermit at this site. In addition, UNESCO had provided the Turkish state with the coordinates of the World Heritage sites, but the state did not give this international organization any weight, directly bombarded the site of Kaluta Castle and damaged the main building despite the site's global nature through being included in the UNESCO World Heritage List since 2011.
The crimes and violations committed by the Turkish occupation authorities and the factions loyal to it amount to war crimes, according to the definition contained in international laws and charters that prohibit the commission of any hostilities against historical monuments, works of art or places, in addition to the resolutions issued by the Security Council which called on all parties to salvage the rich diversity of Syrian society and Syria's cultural heritage, and take appropriate steps to protect World Heritage sites in Syria.
We, in the Directorate of Antiquities - Afrin region, appeal to the Security Council and the relevant UN organizations to activate their decisions, agreements and charters that Turkey has signed, stop the violations taking place against archaeological sites, prosecute those responsible for these crimes and put pressure on the Turkish state to withdraw its forces and factions, hoping that this statement will be heard and met open minds to peace."