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Idlib museum throws open doors in defiance of threats

The Idlib museum, whose collections rival those in Aleppo and Damascus, reopened last month, despite having lost an unknown number of its treasures to looters.

Like its people, Syria’s archaeological heritage has suffered greatly throughout the civil war between the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and armed opposition groups, and the simultaneous rise and fall of the so-called Islamic State. Among many other tragedies, the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Palmyra, Aleppo and Damascus have been torn apart and bombed. Syrian archaeologists have fared no better: Khaled Asaad was brutally killed at Palmyra and Qasem Abdullah Yehiya was killed in a rocket attack on Damascus within one week of each other in 2015.

The archaeological museum in the northern province of Idlib has not escaped the carnage. The Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums closed the museum soon after the war began in 2012 and moved its contents into storage. Since the city fell into rebel hands in 2015, the museum has been repeatedly looted and damaged in at least two bombings by government forces (in 2015 and 2016). Many other archaeological sites in the province have also been ravaged and their objects sold in the flourishing antiquities market.

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