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London, July 2 (ANI): In the wake of the devastation unleashed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on ancient sites and ruins in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Libya, UNESCO has signed a satellite deal to improve its monitoring of these sites in areas controlled by the terror group.

UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, who was in London to speak at the Royal United Services Institute about action to protect vulnerable sites, said that the agency had seen pictures of illicit excavation around archaeological sites and therefore, had signed a contract with the UN Institute for Training and Research’s operational satellite applications programme to get more satellite pictures of the areas, reported The Guardian.

She added that the move was aimed at tackling the ‘cultural cleansing’ undertaken by the ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

Bokova, who is one of the candidates to replace UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon, also urged military action to reoccupy the sites but added ‘hard power’ alone would not be enough. She also called for steps like pressing countries to begin a crackdown on the illegal smuggling of looted artefacts, which also constitutes a source of funding for the terror outfit.

After ISIS took control of the ancient heritage city of Palmyra in Syria, unconfirmed reports had claimed that the group had destroyed mausoleums, temples and statues in and around the city by planting explosives. The terror outfit also destroyed Assyrian ruins and artefacts in Iraq. (ANI)

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