Sunday, November 06, 2011

NATO raids spared Libyan antiquities

The Associated Press

Libya's famed ancient Roman sites, including the sprawling seaside ruins of Leptis Magna, were spared damage by NATO during the recent airstrikes, says a London-based Libyan archaeologist .

Hafed Walda, a research fellow at Kings College, said Friday that he wants to "say thank you to NATO for achieving precision strikes" during its campaign to protect civilians from late dictator Moammar Gadhafi's regime

Libya boasts many ancient Roman structures, along with a wealth of ancient artifacts in its major museum in the capital Tripoli and in other museums countrywide.

During the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iraq's major museum in Baghdad was looted. Fears were raised on the outbreak of violence in Libya that a similar fate may befall its antiquities and ancient ruins.

Walda, speaking at the American Academy in Rome at a conference on saving cultural heritage in crisis areas, said he had visited sites in the country's west in late September, and all had "so far seen no visible loss."

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