Over the past five years, ISIS terrorist organization and other armed groups have killed thousands of people and committed countless atrocities against humanity. On top of that, terrorists have raided many museums and archaeological sites and have smuggled and sold historic artefacts on Western European markets to further fuel their criminal activities.
Experts around the world have named it the largest crime against cultural values since WWII.
Robberies in Syria reduce the world’s cultural heritage. The most horrifying result of all this is the fact that buyers of ‘bloody relics’ in Europe and USA help finance the world’s most evil terrorist organization by buying the stolen artefacts, as noted by National Geographic, which has compiled a list of locations that have become victims to the merciless raiders.
Archaeological repository in the north of Syria
Sources in Syria say some armed group has robbed the repository that held artefacts dug up from Heracles archaeological site – it is located not far from Raqqa, which has been the capital of the self-proclaimed Islamic State since 2014.
Criminals managed to get their hands on hundreds of gypsum, mosaic and ceramic items of high historic and scientific value.
Raids on the repository were carried out multiple times. Fortunately, members of the local community managed to fight them off hoping to protect their cultural heritage. Remaining artefacts have since been moved to a safe location.
Archaeological Museum of Hama
The famous Museum of Hama in the north-west of Syria has become a victim to ISIS as well. A particularly valuable exhibit has been stolen from the museum – a gilded bronze statue from the Aramaic era, approximately 14 B.C. There are serious concerns that this unique exhibit has been smuggled from Syria, UNESCO says.
Folklore museum in Aleppo
Aleppo – Syria’s largest city – could not escape the evil hands of ISIS. Historic artefacts, including glassware, daggers, spears, and other important objects of historical value have been stolen from the museum. Since Aleppo is situated close to the border with Turkey, there is a risk that those cultural treasures have been smuggled out of the country.
This museum, situated in the north-west of Syria, suffered greatly when it was raided by armed militants, who stole approximately 30 valuable exhibits. Although many objects remain lost, fortunately mosaic ornaments were not touched even though the museum’s building was severely damaged by war.
Since the beginning of the armed conflict in Syria, approximately 900 monuments and ancient sites have been robbed, damaged or destroyed by armed groups. Extremists have also blown up multiple tower tombs and the Temple of Palmyra.
«Satellite images show Syria’s territory littered with thousands of illegal dig sites, which means robbing has reached an industrial level in the country,» – says UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova, emphasizing the need for a campaign against ISIS’ propaganda on ‘cultural cleansing’.