Brussels: The European Union said on Thursday that the mass killings and the deliberate destruction of the Syrian archaeological ruins of Palmyra by Islamic State (IS) would be considered a war crime under the Rome Statute.
EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Frederica Mogherini said on Thursday that acts of terror on the cultural and archaeological heritage "in Syria and Iraq amount to a war crime according to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court," a statement published on the EU website said.
At least 462 people have died during the IS offensive on Palmyra and in the central province of Homs.
On Wednesday, IS operatives took full control of Palmyra, whose ruins are included in the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation list of World Heritage Sites, among the many others in Syria endangered by the ongoing conflict in Syria.
Mogherini, who is also vice president of the European Commission, said that in the occupation of Palmyra, "hundreds of people have been killed and thousands more risk to be exposed to arbitrary violent actions and more destructions of cultural sites might be perpetrated".
She stressed that in this situation, "the EU has taken all the appropriate steps in accordance with (UN Security Resolution) 2199 to prevent the illegal trade of cultural property; such illicit traffic of cultural artefacts directly contributes to the financing of (IS) and other terrorist organisations".
The head of European diplomacy underlined that the EU supports the United Nations' efforts to end the four-year conflict destroying Syria, as well as its part in the anti-IS coalition that seeks to put an end to the terrorist organisation.