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 Updated: July 03, 2015

ISIS terrorists smashing ancient sites 'on an industrial scale' warn UNESCO

Source: The Mirror

DAMASCUS, Iraq: UNESCO has reported that cherished sites are being ransacked by the Daash jihadists, with artifacts being destroyed or sold off to private art collectors

ISIS has been ransacking ancient sites across Iraq and Syria, selling off artifacts cherished by historians and archaeologists to fund their regime of terror, UNESCO claim.

The ancient sites are being left with little or no cultural value, according to The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, as disturbing accounts of the terrorist group's actions across the two countries tell of its "cultural cleansing".

The UN agency estimates that of the thousands of historical and cultural sites across Iraq, a fifth are currently controlled by ISIS militants.

UNESCO is claiming that the sites have been heavily looted, with ISIS selling artifacts to middlemen who then approach private collectors from around the world to sell on the cherished items.

Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute in London, UNESCO chief Irina Bokova said: "This deliberate destruction is not only continuing, it is happening on a systematic basis.

"The looting of archaeological sites and museums, in Iraq particularly, has reached an industrial scale of destruction.

"[ISIS] knows there's a financial upside of this activity and they are trying to gain from it.

"We know also that parties in the conflict are selling to certain dealers and to private collectors and to market end buyers."

Her warning comes after ISIS militants were filmed destroying Syria’s Roman city of Palmyra.

Photographs released by the terror organisation show a civilian being forced to smash what look to be six priceless statues with a sledgehammer while a crowd looks on.

Maamoun Abdelkarim, Syrian antiquities minister, said: "It's the most serious crime they have committed against Palmyra's heritage."

Art dealer James Ede said in an interview with Sky News: "What's happening in Syria is a complete catastrophe.

"The destruction of our common archaeological heritage is disastrous and there are sites where we will no longer we able to visit which is a cause of extreme sadness."

Mr Ede however denied that serious art collectors are involved in inadvertently funding the group's campaign of terror in the region.

He added: "There is a slight feeling that in some way the trade is colluding in the funding of [ISIS] by selling stolen antiquities and this is absolutely not the case."


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