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Syria Indicator’s Pursuit of Idlib’s Antiquity Thieves and Their Devastating Alliances

Unmasking the Culprits:
Mosaic painting in the Idlib National Museum (Exclusive - Syria Indicator)

This investigation delves into the methods of smuggling and trafficking in antiquities in Idlib, located in northwestern Syria, along with the corrupt practices within Syrian government institutions concerning antiquities. The study relies on interviews with specialists, correspondence with institutions dedicated to heritage preservation, and reports from international organizations and government bodies.

Near the international highway Damascus-Aleppo (M5) in northern Syria, a group of seven individuals, including one referred to as Mosab (a pseudonym), conducted an excavation at the Babulin Church site. This church is situated approximately 1 km from the village of Babulin, south of the city of Maarat al-Nu`man in Idlib Governorate.

In a matter of hours, Mosab and the group were able to unearth two mosaic scenes: one depicting a peacock bird and the other featuring a plant scene. This group, known for their involvement in excavations aimed at trafficking antiquities, utilized rudimentary tools such as hammers, stone cutting implements, and melted asphalt typically used for road paving. With these tools, they separated the two scenes from the main mosaic discovered in 2007 within agricultural land.

The mosaic originally formed the floor of a basilica spanning over 400 square meters, dating back to the sixth century AD. Numerous churches dot the surrounding area. Unfortunately, the church and its mosaic fell into the hands of random excavators after the initial discovery. They removed several scenes from the mosaic, causing significant damage to the painting. Some scenes, however, remained intact, allowing a general picture of the original artwork to emerge several days later.

In the year the painting was initially discovered, the Department of Antiquities of Maarat took control of the archaeological site and proceeded to restore it, converting it into a site museum.

An image of the mosaic painting within Babulin Church upon its initial discovery reveals the extent of vandalism stemming from agricultural activities and arbitrary excavations back in 2007. (Exclusive: Syria Indicator)
A blueprint of the mosaic painting within Babulin Church, vividly depicting the aftermath of the vandalism it endured upon its 2007 discovery. (Exclusive: Syria Indicator)















Price According to the Scene:

In ancient mosaic paintings, a scene refers to a pictorial element that encompasses figures of humans, animals, or plants.

Excavators and antiquities dealers work to extract one or more scenes from the mosaic painting. However, this extraction process, whether from the center or the sides of the painting, can lead to distortion.

A close-up of a mosaic Description automatically generated with low confidence
Glimpses into “The Chase” from Babulin’s Painting Unveil an Effort to Detach the Scene from its Original Base (Exclusive-Syria Indicator).

The value of a scene varies depending on its quality. According to antiquities dealer Abu Khaled (a pseudonym), “Human scenes fetch the highest prices, followed by animal and plant scenes. For instance, one of the human scenes extracted from a mosaic in Idlib countryside was sold for $50,000 in 2013.

The Babulin panel consists of scenes depicting predatory animal hunts, floral motifs, geometric figures, and a clear inscription documenting the panel. Its floor was adorned with large urns symmetrically arranged on both sides, as well as scenes of peacocks.

A mosaic of a horse pulling a horse Description automatically generated with low confidence

Mosab and his companions transported the two scenes to the town of Telmans on the same day, after reaching an agreement with a merchant to sell one scene for $1,000.

Talmens, situated east of Maarat al-Nu`man, has long been renowned as the hub for antiquities trade in Idlib Governorate. They possess extensive expertise in extracting mosaic paintings and preparing them for transportation outside Syria, surpassing any other region in the country.

Mosab informed Syria Indicator, “I sold the two paintings to a merchant named Abu Bashar for a relatively low price compared to last year. Previously, I sold one painting of the same size for $5,000. Abu Bashar’s argument is that smuggling large pieces to Turkey has become difficult compared to smaller statues or gold and silver coins.”

In Idlib, there are over 1,000 archaeological sites spanning different historical periods, ranging from prehistoric times to the late Islamic era, according to Ayman Nabo, the director of the Idlib Antiquities Center. Nabo, along with a group of archaeologists from Idlib Governorate, established the center in 2013, with the primary goal of protecting and documenting these archaeological sites, especially after armed opposition groups gained control over parts of the province.

In 2011, UNESCO inscribed 5 archaeological sites from the region on the World Heritage List, including the “Qalb Lozeh” church in Jabal al-Summaq, north of Idlib. This church, constructed in the fifth century AD, served as an architectural inspiration for the design of the Notre Dame Church in Paris.

Captured by the investigative reporter in 2013 during the period when opposition factions held sway over the city, the iconic painting “The Birth of Hercules” emerged as a highlight of the Maarat al-Numan Museum’s collection.

Two Babulin Mosaic Panels: From Syria to Turkey and then to the Emirates

Prior to 2011, a substantial number of mosaic paintings were discovered in Idlib. Due to the lack of storage capacity and the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums’ disinterest in archaeological finds, many of these discoveries were left in neglected warehouses, exposed to damp conditions. A former employee of the Maarat al-Numan Antiquities Department revealed that in response to this issue, the department proposed the concept of site museums. This initiative aims to preserve the discovered paintings in their original locations, preventing the need for transportation to distant museum warehouses. The department is presently engaged in backfilling and preserving the paintings until the Ministry allocates a budget to rehabilitate the sites and display the artwork within their natural surroundings. The Babulin painting serves as a successful example of this approach.

After the initial excavation in 2014, the Idlib Antiquities Center took charge of restoring and preserving the painting, employing a guard to ensure its protection.

A bulldozer moving sandDescription automatically generated with low confidence
Removal of the archaeological painting in Babulin and preserving it as a site museum (Syria Indicator – Special)Syrian antiquities dealer Abu Bashar, who has connections to a counterpart in the Turkish city of Antakya, disclosed to Syria Index that the painting eventually found its way to the United States, where it was sold to a wealthy individual through social networking platforms.

Before 2011, antiquities served as a source of income for some people, leading to numerous random excavations across Idlib’s geography, which suffers from inadequate antiquities protection measures. An example of this vulnerability is the Kafr al-Bara site, included on both the National Heritage List and the World Heritage List, extending over an area of more than 12 square kilometers, yet lacking proper safeguarding.

4,000 Artifacts Missing: Islamic Factions Involved in Looting

After Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham and the Al-Fatah Army factions gained control of Idlib Governorate in mid-2015, valuable artifacts were stolen from the Idlib Museum due to the damage caused by missiles from warplanes striking the building and warehouses.

According to Dr. Ahmed Deeb, Director of Museum Affairs at the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums, Islamic factions actively participated in looting artifacts from the museum. This occurred after officials associated with the Syrian government had already emptied the museum’s most prominent collections, including its valuable golden treasures that were on display. Dr. Deeb’s statements were cited in the Syrian Archaeological Heritage Report – five years of the crisis 2011-2015, issued by the Ministry of Culture. The Directorate of Museum Affairs took special measures to transfer a large number of endangered artifacts from various museums to the city of Damascus following the escalation of events in Syria.

Qanya Treasure stands out. Captured by the investigative reporter in early 2011, it adds to the list of lost treasures.

According to an inventory conducted by the Directorate of Antiquities of Idlib, the museum had 7,500 registered pieces. However, as of today, the number of remaining pieces that match the museum’s records does not exceed three thousand, with over 4,000 artifacts lost. These missing items include jewelry, gold and silver coins, small statues from Ebla, cylindrical or flat seals, and pottery from Ebla or other archaeological sites such as Tal al-Karkh, Tal Al-Mastumah, Tal Denit, and Tal Efes, as listed in the inventory.

Investigating the brigades that entered the museum after the armed opposition took control of Idlib and made it their headquarters, the reporter of Syria Indicator identified “Ammar,” a member of the Empowerment Brigade affiliated with Ahrar al-Sham. Ammar confirmed the brigade’s involvement in the theft of pottery slabs.

The Tamkeen Brigade later exhibited pictures of pottery figures in plastic cages at one of the headquarters of the armed “Jund al-Aqsa” faction in 2017, after gaining control of the location. Ammar revealed that these antiquities were initially housed in one of the headquarters of “Ahrar al-Sham” near the town of Taftanaz in rural Idlib.

Image showing the stolen antiquities from the Idlib Museum – Internet

Plundering and Desecrating Archaeological Sites

From the time areas in Idlib slipped from the control of the central government in Damascus in 2011 until 2018, illicit excavations expanded across the governorate. Archaeological sites became lucrative opportunities for antiquities dealers, armed opposition factions, and civilian prospectors to capitalize on. This exploitation occurred in the absence of awareness and amidst frequent government airstrikes targeting archaeological sites, some of which were used as temporary shelters for displaced individuals.

Prominent among the targeted sites were the archaeological mounds, which represent 51% of Syria’s total archaeological mound count, as per the data from the Directorate of Antiquities of Idlib. Notable instances include Tell Denit and Tell Afis to the east of Idlib, as well as Tell al-Mastumah. These locations were subject to unsystematic excavations carried out with bulldozers, explosives, and heavy machinery. In addition to these, numerous recognized archaeological sites throughout Idlib suffered from similar plundering.

The Syria Indicator investigation captured images of bulldozers engaging in unauthorized excavations at the Tell Denit site in the village of Qminas, located east of Idlib. This mound boasts layers from the Aramaic, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Persian eras, containing architectural remnants, flat seals, Hellenistic-era coins, and Byzantine-era artifacts like a monastery, a church, coins, saddles, and pottery. The Idlib Antiquities Department provided these insights.

Engaged in excavation at Tell Denit, an individual is seen wielding a metal detector in pursuit of antiquities – (Exclusive -Syria Indicator).

The Syria Indicator investigation captured images of bulldozers engaging in unauthorized excavations at the Tell Denit site in the village of Qminas, located east of Idlib. This mound boasts layers from the Aramaic, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Persian eras, containing architectural remnants, flat seals, Hellenistic-era coins, and Byzantine-era artifacts like a monastery, a church, coins, saddles, and pottery. The Idlib Antiquities Department provided these insights.

The Babulin painting also fell victim during this period. In late 2015, Maarshmarin, in collaboration with the landowner Abdul Karim al-Jarak, removed the remaining mosaic artwork from the site. This operation was reported by the Idlib Antiquities Center as an act of vandalism. Using heavy machinery and laborers in broad daylight, the protective materials encasing the painting were stripped away, causing severe damage to the Basilica Church’s features. Stones from the church were left scattered around the vicinity, mirroring the fate of other vandalized and destroyed churches.

The Syria Indicator website delved into the identity of Maarshmarin, who was implicated in the destruction of the archaeological site and the painting. Displaced individuals from Babulin recounted that the person in question is Abu al-Baraa Maarshmarin, a former commander of a battalion affiliated with the Ahrar al-Sham faction during that period.

A pile of rocks in a desertDescription automatically generated with low confidence
Images depicting the mosaic excavation and the subsequent site devastation – Exclusive: Syria Indicator.

“Tahrir al-Sham” Dominates Excavation and Antiquities Trade

In 2018, the Salvation Government in Idlib, which represents the civilian aspect of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, enacted a prohibition against unregulated civilian excavations, carrying the threat of imprisonment as a consequence. Nonetheless, evidence obtained by the investigative reporter reveals that Jabhat al-Nusra, immediately upon taking control of the province in late 2014 under the name “Muslim funds,” effectively confiscated the majority of Idlib’s antiquities.

They imposed a restriction on unsanctioned excavations, only permitting them with a license issued by their leaders or the designated authorities in the antiquities sector.

Image captured in 2016 at the Deir Lozeh site, located near the town of Ihsim in Jabal Al-Zawiya – Source: Al-Nusra Front’s Violations Page.

According to accounts from prospectors, Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham granted permissions for haphazard excavations under the orders of Abu al-Baraa, the figure in charge of the antiquities sector. These licenses required specific sites and a guarantee from the Antiquities Officer that the excavator would not face disturbances from the Authority’s patrols. Additionally, a wireless communication device would be provided to the excavator to maintain contact with the Antiquities Officer for protection.

The violations committed by the Al-Nusra Front organization, which rebranded itself as “Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham” in 2017, extended beyond mere unauthorized excavations and oversight of archaeological sites. The organization transformed several archaeological sites into clandestine prisons, commencing this practice in 2014. The most infamous example was Al-Oqab Prison, which was used for detaining and eliminating civilian activists and leaders associated with the Free Army, according to various media outlets.

An official document aimed at facilitating the activities of archaeological excavators, issued by a member of Jabhat al-Nusra – Source: Al-Nusra Front’s Violations Page.

As Asim Zaidan, the founder of the “Al-Nusra Front Violations” website, explains, “Al-Nusra Front repurposed three archaeological sites, including Jabal Al-Zawiya and Harem Castle, as branches of their prison network, consisting of a total of forty branches scattered across Idlib and its outskirts. One of the most well-known of these branches is the secret prison located between the towns of Kansafra and Al-Bara.”

Trading Old Currencies: A More Accessible and Lucrative Venture

Since 2015, merchants have shifted their interests away from larger artifacts such as mosaic panels or substantial statues. This shift is attributed to the constraints posed by the closure of routes leading to regions under the control of the Syrian government, as well as the heightened scrutiny at Turkish border crossings. This insight comes from antiquities dealer Abu Khaled. Instead, the trading of ancient currencies, particularly Umayyad coins, has taken center stage. Among these, the golden dinar holds particular allure. One side of the dinar features an image of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan gripping his sword, while the reverse side displays an image of the key to Jerusalem, accompanied by the inscription “This dinar was minted in the year seventy-seven.” The value of a single dinar has reached a staggering 200 thousand dollars.

Al-Oqab Prison in Jabal Al-Zawiya – Internet
Al-Oqab Prison in Jabal Al-Zawiya – Internet

Telegram Groups for Artifacts Viewing

Merchants are actively engaged on social media platforms, with a particular emphasis on the “Telegram” application. This approach serves to shield the identities and quantities involved in transactions between sellers and buyers. Numerous digital market groups exist to showcase, price, and facilitate the sale of items acquired through excavations.

An image of the Umayyad dinar bearing the inscription of Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan – sent by the antiquities dealer – Internet.

In addition to these, there are groups focused on providing guidance for unregulated excavations, as well as interpreting rock formations. Anas joined one such market on the Telegram application to present his collection of archaeological discoveries, comprising coins and eyeliners. These items were unearthed from a Byzantine tomb after three days of excavation. Initially valuing the collection at over $2,000, Anas ultimately managed to sell it for 500 Turkish liras. Anas explains, “This time luck wasn’t on my side. However, I won’t give up on excavating.

Findings that Anas found and sold via Telegram – Exclusive: Private Syria Indicator
Findings that Anas found and sold via Telegram – Exclusive: Private Syria Indicator

The desire to uncover a treasure that could alter my life forever only grows. It’s akin to gambling.”

Smuggling Under Intelligence Patronage: Facilitation into Lebanon

Syria Indicator tracks the movement of artifacts and their illicit smuggling methods. This is achieved by interweaving the account of antiquities dealer Abu Khaled with insights from fellow traders.

Smuggling routes for smaller artifacts persist through regions controlled by the Syrian government. Specific merchants have become adept at navigating these routes, with government security branch vehicles repurposed into contraband transport and makeshift taxis for wanted individuals.

Merchants transport their goods to the Lebanese border in vehicles sporting security plates, allowing them to pass unhindered through the military checkpoints dotting the roads. Costs for transportation vary based on the weight and nature of the “antiques.” A single transport journey from northern regions to the Lebanese border starts at $1,000 and can reach up to $5,000. Merchants may engage in up to three shipments per month, determined by the volume of acquisitions, the quality of the items, and the timeline specified by the Lebanese recipient.

“In Lebanon, Syrian merchants engage with known Lebanese counterparts with names like Mohammed Saeed, Amid, Ahmed, and Fahd,” reveals merchant Abu Khaled to Syria Indicator. He further discloses, “There’s also another dealer named Hassan, who specializes in dealing with counterfeit antiquities.” He continues, explaining that the artifacts depart Lebanon for markets in the Gulf or Europe. The destination depends on the artifact’s type; Islamic antiquities are highly sought-after in the Arab Gulf markets, while European markets display interest in antiquities from the ancient, Roman, and Byzantine eras.

The merchant adds another dimension, stating, “The alternative route goes through Turkey. In Turkey, Syrian and foreign merchants take charge of shipping collectibles to Europe or, conversely, to Lebanon for disposal.” Preceding 2011, this route was utilized to transport elements such as ancient building stones, crowns, decorations, and inscriptions to Lebanon, for the construction of palaces.

Maarat al-Numan Museum: A Witness and a Victim

Maarat al-Numan Museum, also known as “Khan Murad Pasha,” is renowned for hosting the largest collection of mosaic paintings in the Middle East. Approximately 3,600 square meters of these exquisite artworks are housed within, with 1,600 square meters on public display and the remaining 2,000 square meters stored in warehouses. Eng. Abdul Rahman Al-Yahya, entrusted with safeguarding the museum since 2012 and subsequently establishing the Heritage Preservation Center in 2015, alongside archaeologists who face pursuit by the Damascus government’s security services due to their opposition to the “regime,” jointly formed this center. Their collective aim is to shield mosaic paintings from theft.

Intermittent bombings over time have resulted in the partial destruction of the museum’s structure and the damage of the displayed paintings, as revealed by Al-Yahya.

Although UNESCO condemned the bombing of the museum, Ghazi Alulu, the director of Maarat al-Nu’man Antiquities Department within the Syrian government, attributed the destruction to clashes. This information was reported in the “Syrian Archaeological Heritage Report – Five Years of Crisis 2011-2015,” issued by the Ministry of Culture in 2016. However, in 2023, he shifted the blame to “terrorism” and the earthquake of February 6, 2023, as communicated through the Syrian Al-Ikhbariya channel. This assertion appeared to be motivated by a desire to secure funding for the restoration of earthquake-damaged sites.

The Syria Indicator conducted a thorough analysis of four photographs, shedding light on government airstrikes that targeted the Maarat al-Numan Museum. This museum, deemed one of the world’s three most vital mosaic museums by the Idlib Tourism Directorate, suffered aerial bombardment that severely impacted key landmarks and priceless mosaic paintings, some of Syria’s most significant archaeological finds. The Heritage Preservation Center’s founder, Eng. Abdul Rahman Al-Yahya, detailed how the museum served as their central hub until government forces retook control of the city early in 2020.

Over the course of eight years, the museum experienced extensive destruction due to direct air strikes, leading to more than 30% damage to the displayed mosaic paintings. Despite protective measures like sand berms and careful preservation, these artworks were significantly compromised. The bombings also resulted in the collapse of the central mosque within the museum premises and the partial demolition of the Alaia Library, which was dedicated to Abu Al-Ala Al-Maari.

Photographic evidence showcases the eastern side of the museum, directly struck by explosive barrels, causing substantial damage and the destruction of mosaic paintings dating back over 1,500 years. This marked the second bombing incident, occurring on June 15, 2015.

The Syria Indicator’s investigation, supported by images, discredits the reports of international news websites and agencies like the Independent Arabia and Reuters. They had published a report on February 9, 2020, titled “Unveiling hundreds of artifacts in Maarat al-Numan, Syria, after hiding them for years.” These reports suggested that the museum’s warehouse remained concealed from 2012, when opposition factions took control, until 2020 when the Syrian government regained authority.

The photographs, a product of the Syria Indicator’s inquiry, capture the journey of the Heritage Preservation Center’s director, alongside the local council of Maarat al-Numan, affiliated with the Syrian Interim Government (aligned with pro-Turkish opposition forces). The group entered the warehouse with the intention of safeguarding it against bombing incidents.

“The Syrian government actively sought to obliterate the museum and its mosaics through repeated, direct airstrikes against one of the most significant bastions of human civilization,” Al-Yahya emphasizes.

Maarat Al-Numan Museum’s Warehouse Captured in 2019 – Exclusive: Syria Indicator.

Partners in Crime

The aerial bombardment of archaeological sites by government forces extended beyond the Maarat Museum, as pointed out by Abd al-Rahman al-Yahya. This destructive pattern also impacted the majority of antiquities within the province.

In a video clip shared on its Facebook page, the Idlib Antiquities Center unveiled footage from the end of 2019, depicting warplanes launching four airstrikes against the archaeological site of Ebla. Ironically, despite the Italian mission, led by Paolo Mattei, having ceased its operations in Syria since 2011 due to the conflict, it resumed its work at the Ebla site in 2022. This decision was taken despite protests from Syrian organizations that petitioned the University of Rome I, urging them not to fund the Italian archaeological mission due to its operation in regions marked by significant breaches of international humanitarian law against civilian infrastructure.

In a surprising turn of events, Bashar al-Assad honored Italian archaeologist Paolo Mattei with the highest degree of the Syrian Order of Merit in mid-2023. Paolo Mattei, renowned for his role in discovering Ebla, had returned to lead a new Italian mission at the same site. Syrian Minister of Culture, Labana Mashouh, disclosed this information during the award ceremony.

Adjacent to Maarat al-Numan, government forces razed and obliterated the tomb of Omar bin Abdul Aziz in Deir Sharqi town following their takeover of the region. This tomb, a significant Umayyad caliph’s resting place, holds the status of an archaeological site within the province as affirmed by Resolution No. 20 / A issued by the Ministry of Culture and National Guidance on February 15, 1976.

The decision of the Ministry of Culture to consider the tomb of Omar bin Abdul Aziz as an archaeological site – Internet
The decision of the Ministry of Culture to consider the tomb of Omar bin Abdul Aziz as an archaeological site – Internet

Even prior to 2011, the Antiquities Directorates played a role in exacerbating the encroachment on antiquities. This was evident through unauthorized excavations, the loss of antiquities records, and the subsequent destruction of archaeological structures, as disclosed by Amer al-Idlibi (a pseudonym), a former employee of the Buildings Department of the Idlib Antiquities Department.

The failure to establish clear boundaries for the sanctity of archaeological sites, combined with alleged bribes paid to the Director of Antiquities in Idlib, Nicolas Kabad, and the Director of Buildings, Hazem Jarkas (who currently holds the position of Director of Antiquities in Hama), facilitated the establishment of stone quarry facilities within 500 meters of archaeological sites. Amer al-Idlibi affirms that this permission granted by these officials allowed these quarries to dangerously encroach upon historical sites.

Article (58) of the Syrian Antiquities Law, established through Legislative Decree No. 222 of 1963 and subsequently amended by Law No. 1 of 1999, underscores the following in its initial paragraph: “Anyone found engaged in the destruction, demolition, or obliteration of an immovable or movable antiquity shall face severe penalties, with the harshest punishment reserved for instances occurring on state-owned property.”


A picture dating back to 2009, showing the expansion of stone quarries at the expense of the archaeological sites in Harem – Internet.
A picture dating back to 2009, showing the expansion of stone quarries at the expense of the archaeological sites in Harem – Internet.

This leniency eventually led to disastrous consequences, including the structural damage and collapse of ancient buildings in the Harem Mountains and Al-Bara due to the shockwaves generated by the quarries’ explosions. Moreover, these quarries expanded perilously close to archaeological sites. Some facilities in the Harem Mountains were erected at distances not exceeding 100 meters from these historically significant locations.

Article 26 of the Syrian Antiquities Law, enacted through Legislative Decree No. 222 of 1963 and subsequently revised by Law No. 1 of 1999, clearly mandates that “the establishment of heavy and hazardous industries, as well as military installations, within a distance of half a kilometer from registered immovable archaeological and historical properties, is strictly prohibited.”

Where Have the Artifacts from Idlib Museum Gone?

The Syria Indicator’s investigation spanned several months, encompassing statements from Syrian antiquities officials, the activities of archaeological missions across various regions of Syria, and reports from specialized cultural heritage institutions. The aim was to establish a connection between officials within the antiquities sector and the rampant theft of antiquities.

Muhammad al-Hamoud, the present director, conceded the absence of proper artifact records due to negligence. In contrast, Mamoun Abdel Karim, the former director-general of antiquities and museums, disclosed that the registration and documentation of Syrian artifacts before 2011 had not surpassed 9,000 images.

Abdul Karim affirmed in a press release that “99 percent of the contents of Syrian museums were relocated to Damascus during the early years of the conflict.” This claim is corroborated by the “Heritage for Peace” report, indicating that the Syrian authorities moved 300,000 artifacts from 34 museums to Damascus in March 2015. This encompassed all artifacts from Palmyra, as per the General Directorate of Antiquities and Museums data. The pressing question arises: How did Syrian museum pieces and Palmyra’s antiquities find their way to auctions beyond Syria’s borders? Furthermore, how did the number of artifacts reported as stolen from the Idlib Museum skyrocket to 50,000 when the museum’s records state that the archaeological pieces archived before Idlib’s departure from the regime’s control amount to 7,500?

In 2018, Interpol made an official request to the Syrian Directorate of Antiquities for artifact records. Unfortunately, this request went unanswered due to the lack of comprehensive documentation for the numerous museum pieces that had been stolen.

International Resolutions Pertaining to Syrian Antiquities

Security Council Resolution 2199 of 2015 mandates the reinforcement of collective penalties against ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as the curtailment of their funding, encompassing the trade in antiquities.

  • Security Council Resolution 2253 of 2015 places an obligation on nations to report the confiscation of cultural artifacts originating from Iraq and Syria.
  • Security Council Resolution 2347 of 2017 mandates that countries prohibit the trade or transfer of cultural artifacts originating from conflict zones or contexts of conflict.
  • Furthermore, the 2017 Convention on Offenses Relating to Cultural Property by the Council of Europe plays a significant role in addressing these concerns.

Investigation: Ahmed Murad / Supervision: Ali Eid

Translated by: Nabil Nano

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