Paris: For the roomful of archaeologists, scholars and Iraqi cultural officials on Saturday, each neighbourhood conquered in Mosul brought them one step closer to learning the fate of the ancient sites and artifacts seized by the Islamic State group.
At a two-day UNESCO conference, Iraqi officials asked for money and expertise to reclaim the cultural heritage that is on the verge of complete destruction.
At sites wrenched back from Islamic State, soldiers have found trenches filled with historical treasures that were apparently intended for eventual sale, even as the extremists filmed themselves using explosives and sledgehammers to destroy ancient structures. Officials at the UN cultural agency said it will take years, if not decades.
"It's not just one monument destroyed by one event. We're talking about an entire region that has suffered for years a massive devastation," said Francesco Bandarin, assistant director-general.