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Disturbing headline: Gangs Eyeing Syrian Antiquities

March 19, 2012

A recently discovered 1,500-year-old Christian church by the joint Syrian-Polish archaeological mission in Palmyra, 210 kms northeast of Damascus. (Photo: AFP - Palmyra Department of Antiquities and Museums)

Here we go again.  Iraq, Libya, and now Syria.  Looting of archaeological sites continues to go hand in hand with armed conflict.  Bible History Daily has a brief account about a leaked memo from Syria’s prime minister to the ministers of culture and finance warning of organized looting of archaeological sites.  Alakhbar English has a more detailed account and a link to the Facebook page of the group that published the memo, Syrian Archaeological Ruins in Danger:

 An internal Syrian government memo claims that “professional international gangs” are setting up shop inside Syria to mass loot the country’s antiquity treasures, a scenario eerily reminiscent of Iraq’s fate under US occupation.

A Facebook group named “Syrian Archaeological Ruins in Danger” has posted a copy of a letter sent from Syrian Prime Minister Adel Safar to the ministers of culture and finance and the governor of the central bank. The letter confirms reports that “professional international gangs” had brought “equipment and satellite communication devices for stealing manuscripts and robbing museums, safes, and banks” into the country. Safar said that similar networks had operated in Iraq and Libya and requested the tightening of security measures around such places for fear that these gangs had already entered into Syria.

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