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Syrian archaeologists face challenge to protect cultural relics from looters

Hama Museum in Syria [Youtube]

Scholars and archaeologists in Syria are facing great difficulty protecting local cultural relics, as all six world heritage sites in the country have been affected since the outbreak of the war in 2011, reports Reuters.

Hama Museum, once a leading museum in Syria, used to be famous for its rich exhibits. But now, it is closed like most museums in the country. Most of the important cultural relics have been transported to other areas following safety concerns.

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According to data released by the Syrian Cultural Relics and Museums authority, some anti-government armed forces and extremist organisations illegally excavated cultural relics in their controlled areas. The number has reached tens of thousands in recent years and many of those relics have been smuggled outside the country into the European market.

Terrorists of various factions destroyed the poaching artifacts during the war. They used some of the instruments that we banned to excavate the monuments, attempted to search for cultural relics and then sent them to foreign countries for sale,

said Albdulqader Farzat, curator of Hama Museum.

“Those excavations were done before the army reached these areas, and after the army took control, the thieves turned to the other side of the city behind those hills,” said archaeologist Nader Allawi.

In addition to the National Museum, only two museums across Syria have been reopened. In addition to safety concerns, the museums are currently faced with various other difficulties such as shortage of maintenance funds and manpower. It will take time before they can reopen on a large scale.

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