Tags: Syria | jihadists | artifacts

Following Taliban Model, Syrian Jihadists Target Ancient Treasures

By    |   Friday, 23 May 2014 11:18 AM

Militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a jihadist group that controls much of eastern Syria, deliberately destroyed archaeological treasures from an ancient Mesopotamian site, The Times of Israel reported.

Men identified as ISIL fighters appear appeared in undated pictures recently uploaded  by the Association for the Preservation of Syrian Archaeology smashing a 3,000-year-old Neo-Assyrian statue stolen from Tell Ajaja – the ruins of what had been an Assyrian provincial capital in ancient times.

Another image showed one of the militants putting his foot on the statue’s face prior to its destruction. 

To some, it was an act reminiscent of the Taliban's destruction of two massive 1,700-year-old statues of Buddha in Central Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains in March 2001.

After several unsuccessful attempts to obliterate the massive Buddhas – one of them 165 feet high ­– with tank and anti-aircraft fire, the Taliban hauled in a huge cache of dynamite from Kabul, drilled holes in the statues and detonated them.

The destruction in Tell Ajara was apparently not the ISIL’s first attempt to destroy Syria’s  archaeological treasures during the current civil war. The Independent newspaper of London reported that in January, the group blew up a 6th -century Byzantine mosaic near Raqqa, a city on the Euphrates River.

The ISIL has seized control of a large portion of Syria – an area ranging from the Turkish and Iraqi borders in the east to part of Aleppo province in western Syria.

Professor Maamoun Abdulkarim, general director of antiquities and museums at the Syrian Culture Ministry in Damascus, has said that jihadist hostility endangers antiquities.

“I am sure that if the crisis continues in Syria, we shall have the destruction of all the crosses from the early Christian world, mosaics with mythological figures and thousands of Greek and Roman statues,” told Abdulkarim, an expert on the early Christian and Roman periods in Syria, The Independent earlier this year.

The jihadists are hardly the sole party to blame for destroying Syrian historic sites. President Bashar Assad’s forces have launched air strikes and artillery barrages that have also taken a devastating toll on antiquities across Syria.  Looting is also a problem. In one recent incident, two thieves were killed when the bulldozer they were using to excavate a cave caused its roof to collapse.

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MiddleEast
Militants affiliated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a jihadist group that controls much of eastern Syria, deliberately destroyed archaeological treasures from an ancient Mesopotamian site, The Times of Israel reported.
Syria, jihadists, artifacts
405
2014-18-23
Friday, 23 May 2014 11:18 AM
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