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Iraq struggles to stop antiquities smuggling

Iraq has managed to recover some smuggled antiquities, but illegal excavations and the theft of ancient artifacts continue.
Recovered artifacts are seen at the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad July 15, 2015. The U.S. handed back to Iraq on Wednesday antiquities it said it had seized in a raid on Islamic State fighters in Syria, saying the haul was proof the militants were funding their war by smuggling ancient treasures. The Iraqi relics were captured by U.S. special forces in an operation in May against an Islamic State commander known as Abu Sayyaf. They included ancient cylindrical stamps, pottery, metallic bracelets and ot
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BAGHDAD — On Aug. 30, the Iraqi Integrity Court announced the recovery of the head of the statue of King Sanatruq I, who reigned from roughly 140 to 180, which is an important Babylonian monument that is registered in the records of the Iraqi Museum of Antiquities. The head was stolen in April 2003. Also in August, Iraq recovered 483 artifacts that the Islamic State (IS) intended to smuggle out of Iraq.

An important step was taken in the efforts to recover Iraqi antiquities when the United States pledged last month to “protect the antiquities of Iraq and to recover what was looted,” John Russell, the US State Department’s senior adviser on Iraqi cultural heritage, said in a statement. This was confirmed by a source at the US Embassy in Baghdad who requested anonymity. The source said that the embassy’s instructions on how to deal with cases of artifacts smuggling are very strict, and that the United States is very serious about ending this phenomenon.

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