NEW YORK -- The US State Department and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York will co-host an event tonight highlighting the rapid destruction of cultural heritage across Iraq and Syria.
"As the United States responds to the violence in Iraq and Syria that has destroyed millions of lives and caused enormous suffering to the region’s people, we also remain deeply concerned about the destruction of cultural heritage in these areas of tragic conflict," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement. "Ancient treasures have now become casualties of continuing warfare and looting and are targets for destruction."
US Secretary of State John Kerry will attend the event, as well Director General of UNESCO Irina Bakova, high-level diplomats from the region and dignitaries from the preservation and museum communities.
Senior officials are expected to "call for an end of cultural property trafficking with terrorists," one senior State Department official said, and hope the event might provide a platform to combat the destruction of cultural sites and heritage.
"The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant takes credit for intentionally destroying numerous historic and religious sites, and media report that ISIL is heavily invested in the looting of heritage sites and trafficking of archaeological artifacts for sale on the international art market," the official added.