WASHINGTON, DC - Representative Eliot L. Engel, Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, today condemned the ISIS takeover of the Syrian city of Palmyra and called on Congress to pass H.R. 1493, the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act.
“ISIS is not only carrying out brutal attacks on the people of Iraq and Syria and destabilizing the entire region, it is also threatening the incredible cultural history of this area, also called the Cradle of Civilization. As of yesterday, the city of Palmyra, Syria is now in the hands of the terrorist ISIS group and its ancient Roman ruins under now threat. The United States must do more to protect the heritage of this region, and Congress can step up by passing the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act," said Rep. Engel. “As we saw with ISIS destruction in Hatra, Nimrud, and Mosel, once these one-of-a-kind places of great cultural importance are destroyed, they’re gone forever. Let’s do everything to save them.”
H.R. 1493, the Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, passed the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on April 23 and awaits action on the House floor. The bill would coordinate programs spanning multiple federal agencies including the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, ensuring America’s efforts to save cultural property operate effectively. It would also choke off ISIS’ profits from looting and trafficking cultural artifacts by restricting the importation of stolen cultural property from Syria into the United States. These restrictions would work in conjunction with similar restrictions our allies have already imposed, as part of a unified response to undercut ISIS’ ability to profit from stealing the region’s cultural heritage.