French President Francois Hollande proposed a plan to offer “asylum” to Syrian artifacts and historical antiquities Tuesday.
In an address to the 38th meeting of the UNESCO conference in Paris, Hollande said he would assemble a group of French archaeologists and local authorities to remove antiquities from Syria for safekeeping in France. His plan, he said, would protect artifacts from “fanatics who are attacking the living and the dead, all who have humanity today and tomorrow, and those of yesterday.”
He referred to UNESCO as “the moral conscience of humanity.”
Many of the archeological treasures of Syria have been destroyed by the Islamic State, which regards pre-Muslim relics as idolatrous and anti-Islamic.
Officials of the Syrian government say more than 300,000 artifacts have been moved to safe places within the country, including from areas controlled by IS.