A Syrian government antiquities body has accused Turkey of bombing a UNESCO heritage site — which includes significant Byzantine heritage — during its military campaign in the Kurdish enclave of Afrin.
Mahmoud Hamoud, director general of Antiquities and Museums, released a statement claiming the bombing of Barad — 15 kilometers (nine miles) south of Afrin, northern Syria — “destroyed many important archaeological buildings”.
Hamoud said these buildings included the tomb of St. Maron and the fourth-century Julianus church, one of the oldest in the world.
The damage was allegedly done on Wednesday; the Syrian organization did not publish photos of the destruction.
The Barad site also includes former monasteries, temples, and tombs going back to the Roman era.
Barad is also one of Syria’s so-called ‘dead cities’ — a collection of 700 abandoned settlements between Aleppo and Idlib dating from the 1st-7th centuries.
On Friday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said over 3,700 “terrorists” had been “neutralized” since the start of Ankara’s Operation Olive Branch in Afrin.
Turkey’s military and local proxies launched the operation on Jan. 20 and recently took control of the Syrian region’s mostly Kurdish main city.