UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The United Nations says ancient Christian and Muslim sites in Syria are under attack and is demanding a halt to the destruction of the country's cultural heritage.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, and Syrian mediator Lakhdar Brahimi issued a joint statement Wednesday. They cited "alarming reports" that Syria's heritage is being deliberately targeted for ideological reasons.
The officials said "archeological sites are being systematically looted and the illicit trafficking of cultural objects has reached unprecedented levels."
They condemned the use of cultural sites for military purposes and called on all parties in the three-year conflict to uphold international obligations to protect cultural property.
The officials also appealed to customs officials, tourists and the art market to be on the alert for stolen Syrian artifacts.