Ancient Syrian antiques are being posted for sale on Facebook.
The alarm was raised by Washington DC-based journalist Zaid Benjamin, who shared screenshots of the Facebook pages posting Syrian antiques for sale in Turkey.
— Zaid Benjamin (@zaidbenjamin) May 30, 2015
From Egypt, Sima Diab quips:
— Sima Diab (@SimaDiab) May 24, 2015
Understandably, the Facebook page Sima links to is no longer available.
According to news reports, ISIS militants are reaping millions in the lucrative smuggling of antiques, selling ancient artifacts plundered from museums to the West and the neighbouring Gulf through a web of smugglers and middle men.
The Daily Mail claims that 10,000-year-old antiques, from the ISIS self-proclaimed capital Raqqa, in Syria, sell for more than $1 million each and are smuggled from Syria and Iraq through Turkey and Lebanon.
The ISIS, an Al Qaeda off-shoot has come to occupy large swathes of Syria and Iraq, leaving behind a trail of horror and destruction in a few months. Areas captured by the fanatic group which insists on wiping out all sites of “heresy” and “apostasy” include the Cradle of Civilisation, an area rich in history since ancient times.
The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has a dedicated page entitled Safeguarding Syrian Cultural Heritage just to track the damage the Syrian conflict, now in its fourth year, has brought to the country's history.
According to UNESCO:
Illegal excavations and looting have exponentially increased since the beginning of the conflict in Syria. These actions have damaged many historical sites and museums, and important Syrian cultural property has disappeared from the country to end up on the black market and/or in private collections.
Numerous archaeological sites in Syria are being systematically targeted for clandestine excavations by well-organized and often armed groups. Excavated archaeological objects of cultural significance make a lucrative trade for unscrupulous dealers operating both locally and internationally. Sites situated near the borders are, in general, more susceptible to being targeted by looters who take advantage of their location to quickly and illegally export artefacts out of Syria.
On the condition of museums, the damage assessment of museums page notes:
Most of the damage to museums in Syria has occurred in the north-western region of the country, where there have been incidents of looting of valuable cultural property, and many works of art are currently unaccounted for. A large number of museums have also had their infrastructure damaged as a result of being caught in the armed conflict.
ISIS is erasing history in Iraq and Syria
Many are however angry how people are moved by the destruction of history than loss of life modern day Syrians suffer from.
Liam Stack comments:
In recent weeks Syrian officials moved some antiques from Palmyra's museum, but didn't warn residents to leave too. http://t.co/EOpFYVc8Tv
— Liam Stack (@liamstack) May 15, 2015
And Khaled Diab warns:
— Khaled Diab (@DiabolicalIdea) May 25, 2015
Also Read Other Global Voices Stories: