News | July 16, 2015

US returns to Iraq hundreds of artifacts stolen by ISIL

By Central Command Public Affairs

BAGHDAD, July 16, 2015 – Hundreds of cultural heritage objects stolen by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant were returned to Iraq during a ceremony here Wednesday.

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Stuart Jones and Iraqi Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Adil Fahad Shirshab marked the return of the 700 objects and fragments to the Iraqi government at the National Museum here.

The artifacts were recovered during a raid two months ago by U.S. forces on the Syrian compound of an ISIL senior leader.

“These artifacts are indisputable evidence that Daesh – beyond its terrorism, brutality and destruction – is also a criminal gang that is looting antiquities from museums and historical sites and selling them on the black market,” said Jones, using another term for ISIL. “The list of Daesh’s atrocities and crimes is long and includes theft and smuggling of Iraqi heritage and culture. Daesh is stealing your antiquities, and we are giving them back to you.”

According to a statement from the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, since 2005 the U.S. has provided Iraq with more than 3,000 of its lost or stolen archaeological and heritage objects.

Efforts against ISIL will continue, the statement said. “As Daesh attempts to finance its terrorist organization through the illegal trade of stolen archeological objects, the United States is working with the international coalition to stem the flow of terrorist financing. Through partnership with international organizations, the United States has developed the Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk to enable customs officials to identify and detain objects from Iraq that have been looted and smuggled.”