Ross Burns

Monuments of Syria

Ross Burns, a former Australian Ambassador to Syria, is the author of The Monuments of Syria (I B Tauris, 1992, 1999 and 2009) and of histories of Syria’s two major cities, Damascus and Aleppo (Routledge, 2005, 2016). His website, which catalogues the damage to Syria’s monuments, can be found at

  • Weaponizing monuments

    The role normally played by monuments in conflict is that of passive and innocent observers, occasionally drawn into the fighting through their locations. In the Syrian conflict, monuments have been more deliberately used as pawns, as ideological weapons and as favoured strongpoints for combatants. The resulting damage to historical sites, particularly to the monumental centres of Aleppo and Palmyra, has been considerable.