Saturday, 4 August 2018

Jabhat al-Nusra Looting Antiquities and Smuggling them to Turkey

Jabhat al-Nusra
The populist narrative which links antiquities sales with the group ISIL (usually with the adjective 'terrorist' attached) is more and more under scrutiny. According to 'Sputnik', on Friday a group of people under the direction of Jabhat al-Nusra began excavation works at an archaeological site in the al-Sheikh Mansour area near Saraqeb city in Idleb region (SANA, 'Jabhat al-Nusra terrorists begin excavation works at archeological site in Idleb to smuggle antiquities to Turkey', 4 August، 2018). The site is here, just east of the city:  35°51'55.96"N 36°51'52.67"E
The excavation, for which technical equipment and twenty foreign experts have been used, is believed to be an attempt to loot the site’s antiquities by the terrorist organization. Quoting local sources, the report said that terrorist organizations in Idleb province, which is home to up to 400 archaeological sites have previously excavated and looted hundreds of archaeological sites and smuggled their contents to foreign countries, including Turkey.  
In addition, this is not the only instance:
The sources confirmed that Jabhat al-Nusra and affiliated groups have stormed Qunya village in the western countryside of Idleb with large numbers of mercenaries who pillaged valuable archaeological treasures from the monastery and the churches surrounding the village. 
The report also quotes its sources as saying that Jabhat al-Nusra are moving the artefacts generated by such means to the border areas with Turkey:
 where specialized merchants buy them, carry them to Turkey and sell them through several networks set up for this purpose. According to the same sources, the city of Sarmada near the borders with Turkey has been turned into a market for selling antiquities and weapons, with terrorists using social media to exhibit stolen artefacts and put them for sale.
Collectors and dealers, please make sure you are not tweeting with terrorists.

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