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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Turkish city is main ISIS trade hub of antiques hauled in Syria & Iraq.

Turkish city is main ISIS trade hub of antiques hauled in Syria & Iraq. (RT).

The Turkish city of Gaziantep is the trade hub used by Islamic State to sell objects of cultural heritage, stolen from Syria and Iraq. In an official letter to UN Russian envoy Vitaly Churkin outlined how the valuables are being transported and sold.

Antiquities from Syria and Iraq are exported by the extremists mostly through the territory of Turkey. The main center for the smuggling of cultural heritage items is the Turkish city of Gaziantep, where the stolen goods are sold at illegal auctions and then through a network of antique shops and at the local market, Bakırcılar Çarşısi (Eski Saray Street, Şekeroğlu district),” states the letter that was made public on Wednesday.

According to Churkin, about 100,000 cultural sites of global importance are currently under Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) control, including 4,500 archeological sites, nine of which are on UNESCO World Heritage List.

The Russian envoy also claims that the profits from the illegal trade of antiques and archeological values by Islamists amounts to some $150-200 million a year.

Moreover, Churkin states Islamic State has a special unit for dealing with antiques led by commander Abu Sayyaf al-Iraqi, part of the so-called Ministry of Natural Resources established by the terror-group’s ‘government,’ which also holds the grip of the oil operations.

According to the envoy, new smuggling hubs are popping up on the Turkish-Syrian border, with the “bulky goods” being delivered by the Turkish transport companies, which Churkin names.
Smuggled artifacts (jewelry, coins, etc.) then arrive in the Turkish cities of Izmir, Mersin and Antalya, where representatives of international criminal groups produce fake documents on the origin of the antiquities." Read the full story here.

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