Iraq foils smuggling of USD13 mn antiquities smuggling to Turkey

A destroyed artifact is seen at a museum, where Islamic State militants filmed themselves destroying priceless statues and sculptures in 2015, during a battle against the militants in Mosul, Iraq, March 11, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Kirkuk ( Iraq has foiled an attempt to smuggle antiquities worth millions of dollars to Turkey, its interior ministry said on Saturday.

The ministry’s general inspector said in a statement, quoted by Alforatnews, that ministry teams in Kirkuk blocked the transfer of scriptures and antiquities worth USD13 million to Turkey, which were in the possession of two people.

Those, the statement revealed, included scriptures and a bust.

It added that the suspects confessed to agreeing with another party in Turkey on the handover of the pieces. They said they were also expecting to receive more items while waiting at the Turkish borders, including jewelry belonging to the wife of late president Saddam Hussein worth millions of dollars.

Iraq’s archaeological sites sustained severe damage when Islamic State militants occupied a third of the country to proclaim a self-styled Islamic “caliphate”. The militants had filmed themselves axing down priceless statues in Mosul and other areas as they considered statues as pagan representations at odds with their extremist religious codes. However, later reports told that militants turned to selling antiquities to fund the group’s operations.

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