Syrian antiquities chief accuses U.S. of looting artifacts in northern Syria

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 10, 2018
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DAMASCUS, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Syrian Director General of Museums and Antiquities Mahmoud Hammoud said on Sunday that the United States, France and allied Kurdish militia are carrying out illegal excavations in ancient sites in northern Syria, according to state news agency SANA.

The U.S., French and the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are looting artifacts in the Um al-Sarj mountain, said Hammoud.

He added that the mountain, which is rich in artifacts, is located near the Kurdish-controlled city of Manbij in the northern countryside of Aleppo. The U.S.-led forces are reportedly doing the same thing in the ancient souk of Manbij.

"The excavations, looting and robbery are also taking place in the archaeological tombs in the eastern side of Manbij," Hammoud said.

The official described these acts as "crimes and a violation of the Syrian sovereignty," noting that the museum and antiquities department in Syria is communicating with international organizations to condemn the violations of the Syrian cultural heritage.

"We hope that the Syrian army would return peace and security to all those areas soon because it's the only force capable of protecting our heritage," he said.

Hammoud's remarks are part of an intensified government campaign against the U.S.-led coalition, which has been operating in Syria since 2014.

Earlier on Sunday, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad urged for condemnation of the "crimes" of the U.S.-led coalition in Syria.

The U.S.-led coalition has been targeting the last vestige of Islamic State (IS) territory on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River in the eastern countryside of Deir al-Zour as part of the support to the SDF militia.

The SDF, with the backing of U.S.-led airstrikes, launched a campaign to defeat the IS on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River since Sept. 10. Enditem

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