The Wall Street Journal reports on the outcomes of their investigation, that terrorists illegally sell Syrian artifacts to the US and Europe, according to Russia Today on June 1.
The investigation shows that ISIL (organization banned in Russia) militants make civilians search for antiques which the terrorists illegally sell to the West, and then use the money to buy weapons and bribe authorities. Dr. Michael Dunty, Academic Director of Cultural Heritage Initiative under the American Schools of Oriental Research says, that it is a whole network of smugglers around the Middle East region, that is involved in this illegal sales business. As the result, such ancient cities as Dura-Europos were ravaged entirely. Dunty also mentioned, that a network of appraisers is also involved in the activity, as terrorists are interested in finding out the real price of antiquities so as to sell them with more profit. According to the investigation, Lebanon and Turkey maybe be used as middle countries for resale, where the corresponding trafficking channels may have been set up even before the war, as it requires careful preparation to organize the illegal trade of valuables on such a scale. The end-buyers are American and European clients, which means these ancient treasures go to be kept at private collections. Consequently, the Wall Street Journal considers the situation to be much more dangerous than just plain terrorism, because the world faces a crisis of cultural heritage, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the World War II.
Combat action started in Syria in 2011, when so called the “moderate” Syrian opposition undertook a military coup against the Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. But this activity reached its maximum in 2013-2014 after the ISIL (organization banned in Russia) became actively involved in the war. Many ancient cities with many unique objects of cultural heritage, including Palmira, currently freed from terrorists due to the joint Russia-Syria military operation, fell under their control.
Source: Rossa Primavera News Agency