Bombs have destroyed much of the Iron Age temple of Ain Dara in Northern Syria. Reporting indicates the temple was the target of an air strike conducted by Turkey. The temple dated to the 9th century BCE, and was perhaps of a similar design to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. The Hittite temple had survived for 3,000 years, and it has been reported that the temple was deliberately targeted.
Here is a similar view of the temple after the airstrike:
The damage seems extensive. Martin Bailey reported for the Art Newspaper that:
Turkey’s air force bombed Ain Dara as part of its military offensive against the Syrian militia YPG (People’s Protection Units), a mainly Kurdish faction which is fighting for autonomy from the Damascus regime of president Bashar al-Assad. The Ankara government is concerned that Syrian Kurds are supporting Kurdish separatists and terrorists in Turkey.
There are claims that the temple was deliberately targeted, an action that would certainly contravene the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property during armed conflict. It may even be classified as an action of intentional destruction. The temple has been photographed and documented, so at least some of this damage may be alleviated with modern reconstructions.
Here is some first-hand video from AFP:
For 3,000 years, the lion sculptures of Syria's Ain Dara stood as testaments to the Iron Age. But as Turkish bombardment pounds the region, they have little left but their paws https://t.co/IZa0MXelz4 pic.twitter.com/WNK0xT6IBK
— AFP news agency (@AFP) January 31, 2018
International law was unable to prevent this destruction, the open question is whether it will provide a remedy. And if there is a remedy, who will seek it? Syria? A Kurdish state?
- Martin Bailey, “A loss as great as Palmyra”: Syrian temple of Ain Dara severely damaged by Turkish forces, The Art Newspaper (Jan. 30, 2018), http://theartnewspaper.com/news/-a-loss-as-great-as-palmyra-syrian-temple-of-ain-dara-severely-damaged-by-turkish-forces.
- Erika Engelhaupt, Siria, Il tempio ittita di Ain Dara distrutto dall’aviazione turca, National Geographic (Jan. 31, 2018), http://www.nationalgeographic.it/scienza/2018/01/30/news/distrutto_dall_aviazione_turca_il_tempio_siriano_di_ain_dara-3841005/.
- Staff, Turkish Bombing Damages 3,000-Year-Old Temple in Northern Syria, The Telegraph, Jan. 29, 2018, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/29/turkish-bombing-damages-3000-year-old-temple-northern-syria/.
- Claire Voon, Iron Age Temple in Syria Devastated by Turkish Air Raids, Hyperallergic (Jan. 29, 2018), https://hyperallergic.com/423867/ain-dara-temple-destroyed/.