Iraq says to track down antiquities after ISIL museum rampage

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants who destroyed priceless antiquities from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul have kept some artifacts to sell, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Saturday, vowing to prevent the radical militants from smuggling them to market.

Responding to a video showing ISIL fighters taking sledgehammers and power drills to sculptures and statues which date back nearly 3,000 years, Abadi also appealed for international support to thwart the “terrorist barbarians”.

“We have information that ISIL destroyed some (artifacts) and kept others for smuggling, and the smuggling operation is afoot,” he told a news conference.

All the items were marked and recorded, he said, and Iraq would seek to track them down with international help, Reuters reported.

“We will chase them with the world on our side. This is a serious call to the Security Council and the United Nations and all peace-loving states to chase them all,” he said.

“Damn them and their hands for what they are doing.”

The video, released on Thursday, showed men smashing up artifacts dating back to the 7th century BC Assyrian era, toppling statues from plinths, smashing them with a sledgehammer and breaking up a carving of a winged bull with a drill.

Archaeologists said some of the items were from the ancient Mesopotamian cities of Nimrud and Nineveh, where Mosul now stands, as well as the ruins of Hatra, which dates back more than 2,000 years.

A commentary on the video said the statues were destroyed because they promoted idolatry.

By Tasnim News Agency