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Baghdad Workshop Discloses the Magnitude of Looted Artifacts by Militants

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During its occupation in Iraq in 2014 and 2015, Islamic State militants raided historical sites and stole thousands of ancient artefacts, most of which are still missing. Since they were dislodged from Iraq in 2017, an international team of archaeologists had been working tirelessly to search and recover as many artefacts as they could find.

As per Unesco, the loot was used to fund its operations, as they smuggled the items all through the Middle East and other areas. A conservation architect Bruno Deslandes working for the U.N. cultural agency informed that the team is working to recover the many artefacts missing and want international resources to work for them. It is not possible for Iraq to do it all on their own, added Brono. The architect was speaking at the National Museum of Baghdad workshop to coordinate international retrieval process.

Videos released by the Islamic State in 2014 showed how murals and statues that were 3,00 years old tore down using bulldozers and drills. The artefacts that were not destroyed were actually smuggled and sold.

In early 2017, Deslandes was the first expert to visit the site while the Islamic State was thrown out. They used 3D scanning and satellite imagery to evaluate the damage done to the site as the battle raged just a few kilometres away. And within a short time, they collected a great collection of data that, according to him will help in tracking the lost items.

The workshop was organised by the European Union Advisory Mission in Iraq comprising of Iraqi and foreign police, archaeological experts, and customs officials.

As per Mariya Polner of the World Customs Organization (WCO), the cultural heritage seizures report was only a minuscule of the scale of looted items, and it was made possible with better coordination between the WCO member states. In 2017, paintings, statues, and antiquities were recovered by the customs officers, which was 48 per cent more than the preceding year.

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