UNSC expresses 'deep concern' for residents trapped in Syria's Palmyra

Published May 23rd, 2015 - 07:11 GMT

The UN Security Council has expressed grave concern for thousands of people trapped inside Syria’s ancient city of Palmyra after it was captured by ISIL (also known as Daesh) militants.

The 15-member council on Friday issued a statement, expressing "deep concern for the thousands of Palmyra residents inside the city, as well as for those displaced" after ISIL militants claimed Palmyra's capture online and posted footage as well as several pictures.

The UN Security Council also "strongly condemned the ongoing barbaric terrorist acts" by ISIL in Syria.

The council expressed deep concern for women and children, adding that ISIL militants had established a "pattern of abducting, exploiting, and abusing women and children elsewhere, including rape, sexual abuse, forced marriage and forced child recruitment."

"The members of the Security Council call for the safe passage of civilians fleeing the violence, and reaffirms that the primary responsibility to protect its populations lies with the Syrian authorities," said the statement.

The militants are almost in full control of Palmyra in central Homs province, the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on May 20.

Meanwhile the council condemned the destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria, particularly by ISIL militants.  

"The members of the Security Council stated their grave concern for the protection of the World Heritage site of Palmyra and the systematic campaign of destruction of cultural heritage in Iraq and Syria," the statement said.

Known in Syria as "the pearl of the desert," Palmyra is located 215 km (134 miles) northeast of the Syrian capital, Damascus.

In March, ISIL damaged two UNESCO heritage sites of Nimrud and Hatra, both located in northern Iraq. The militants also demolished and looted artifacts at the ancient archeological site of Khorsabad situated 15 kilometers (9 miles) northeast of the Iraqi city of Mosul.

[This story has been edited from the source material.]

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