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Syria warns Turkey’s assault on Afrin threatens historic Iron Age temple

January 29, 2018, 11:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The basalt temple in Ain Dara was unearthed in 1982 during an excavation led by Syrian archaeologists

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© AP Photo

MOSCOW, January 29. /TASS/. Military operations near Afrin (65 km away from Aleppo) threatens to destroy a unique historical monument from the Syro-Hittite civilization - the Temple of Ishtar, Syria’s SANA news agency cited a document released by Syria’s General Department of Antiquities and Museums on Sunday. The release says that one of the most ancient houses of worship (dated to the 13th - 10th century BC) near Ain Dara came under fire by Turkish troops.

"Syria calls on UNESCO and other international organizations to denounce Turkey’s aggression and crank up pressure on Ankara in order to thwart it from destroying the historical-cultural monuments that are located in Afrin," the statement says.

The Turkish military action dubbed Operation Olive Branch against Kurdish troops in northern Syria kicked off on January 20. The Turkish General Staff stated on Sunday that "the armed forces have neutralized 557 terrorists."

The basalt temple in Ain Dara was unearthed in 1982 during an excavation led by Syrian archaeologists. Japanese scientists from Tokyo’s Ancient Orient Museum took part in the restoration of its sculptures and bas-reliefs.

In the 10th century BC, the Aramaean state of Bit Agushi existed on the territory of Ain-Dara, which later came under the reign of king of Assyria Shalmaneser. The city of Ain-Dara was his important spiritual center. An ancient basalt lion near the temple’s entrance located on a 50-hectare hill has been well preserved and became the temple’s landmark.

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