The looting and destruction of ancient artifacts and cultural sites by the Islamic State (ISIS) has led a coalition committed to preserving the shared heritage of humanity to denounce the extremists and call for united action by the international community, Fox News
The Antiquities Coalition
has called on collectors and sellers worldwide not to purchase any of the looted artifacts.
"ISIS is arming its campaign of terror in part by selling the past and robbing future generations of our history," said Deborah Lehr of the Antiquities Coalition. "We must constrict the terrorists' ability to profit from the sale of plundered antiquities."
The coalition called on the International Criminal Court to launch a war crimes investigation. It also advocated military action to halt ISIS' "march of destruction across the cradle of civilization."
"Ancient Mesopotamia is really the cradle of civilization — where we saw the first farming, the first cities, the first writing," Jack Green, of the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago, told Fox.
"There's a huge amount of knowledge and that knowledge is being destroyed systematically," Green said. "They're not only destroying images of things — like artwork — but they're also looting artifacts and then smuggling them away."
Mesopotamia encompasses most of modern-day Iraq and parts of other countries including Iran, Turkey and Syria.
The extremists have been demolishing pre-Islamic archaeological ruins in Hatra, located 200 miles north of Baghdad. The area was once home to the Parthian Empire of ancient Persia and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
"The destruction of Hatra marks a turning point in the appalling strategy of cultural cleansing underway in Iraq," said Irina Bokova of UNESCO. She was joined in her condemnation by Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri of the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
ISIS has also been on the rampage against Hatra artifacts in the Mosul Museum and pillaged the city's library.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon denounced the bulldozing of Nimrud, a 3,000-year-old city in Iraq, by ISIS as "a war crime."
Green said anyone who buys relics that might have been taken from such sites is "supporting ISIS," according to Fox News.
Meanwhile, Iraq's National Museum
in Baghdad re-opened Saturday. In April 2003, shortly after the start of the Iraq War, about 15,000 objects were looted from the museum's above-ground storage rooms. Many are still missing, according to Fox.
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