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Damascus accuses US, French, Turkish troops, allies of plundering antiquities

The Syrian Foreign Ministry condemned what it said were illegal excavation works by US, French and Turkish troops as well as their local allies in areas of Syria under their control, including ancient sites at Manbij, Afrin, Idlib, Hasaka, and Raqqa.

Damascus accuses US, French, Turkish troops, allies of plundering antiquities
Credit: FARS News Agency
Speaking to the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), a ministry official said that there had been an increase in excavation work, looting, and theft of ancient cultural artifacts.

"These actions represent a new war crime added to the crimes committed against the Syrian people and Syrian heritage", the official said. According to Damascus, the looting of Syria's historical treasures is part of a deliberate plot by terrorist organizations and their backers to rob the Syrian people of their past and destroy the country's civilizational and cultural heritage.

The Foreign Ministry called on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to condemn the alleged violations and expose those who stand behind them.

Syria is home to some of the oldest continuously inhabited settlements in the world, and contains cultural artifacts from numerous ancient empires. Amid the war in Syria archeologists worldwide have looked on in horror as terrorists looted and destroyed priceless artifacts in areas under their control.

The Foreign Ministry statement follows remarks by Mahmoud Hammoud, director general of Syria's museums and antiquities, alleging that the US, France, and Kurdish militias were carrying out illegal excavations in northern Syria in areas under their control, including "archeological tombs in the eastern side of Manbij".

"We hope that the Syrian Army will return peace and security to all those areas soon because it's the only force capable of protecting our heritage", Hammoud stressed.

The Syrian government has devoted considerable resources to the search for looted artifacts, and is working with international authorities to recover treasures illegally smuggled abroad by criminal enterprises during the terrorist occupation. In late October, authorities reopened the National Museum of Damascus, touting it as a symbolic "political, cultural, and economic victory", a symbol of the return to normal life and defiance of efforts by terrorists to loot and destroy the country's treasures. In September, authorities began a major project to restore the Krak de Chevaliers, an 11th century castle in Homs.

Source: FARS News Agency [December 11, 2018]


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