Smithsonian helps safeguard Syrian heritage sites


WASHINGTON (AP) — After four years of civil war, many of Syria's cultural sites have been threatened or destroyed, and museums have been raided and looted.

Now the Smithsonian Institution is launching a new project with the University of Pennsylvania's Cultural Heritage Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to document current and future preservation needs in Syria. The U.S. groups are working with the Syrian interim government's heritage task force.

The Smithsonian said Thursday that they are working to support museum curators, heritage experts and civilians in protecting cultural sites in Syria. An emergency training program in late June focused on high-risk collections to help launch the effort. Experts say Syria's rich cultural heritage is in danger.

The Smithsonian says a larger training effort is in the works.

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