This undated image allegedly shows smoke billowing from the Baal Shamin temple in Syria's ancient city of Palmyra. (Welayat Homs/Agence FrancePresse/Getty Images)

The recent destruction of sites within the ancient city of Palmyra underscores the need to defend Syria’s and Iraq’s ancient sites and monuments [“Islamic State destroys a treasured site in Syria,” The World, Aug. 31]. In addition to destroying an invaluable part of history, antiquities smuggling is a key source of funding for groups such as the Islamic State.

Turkey — home to 15 UNESCO World Heritage sites — collaborates with the United States on an anti-Islamic State campaign. To help protect many of these sites, both countries must monitor heritage sites via satellite, train troops conducting airstrikes for the U.S.-led coalition and crack down on those who buy and sell antiquities.

These monuments have already survived centuries of human destructive forces, from war and conquest to extremism and fanaticism. We must all commit to protecting these symbols of our heritage for future generations.

Michael Gunter, Cookeville, Tenn.

The writer is secretary-general of the EU-Turkey Civic Commission and an advisory board member of the Turkish Heritage Organization.