Sold to Antique Dealers by the ISIS: Ancient Syrian Treasures Shipped to US - $26 Million
“The profit derived by the Islamists from the illicit trade in antiquities and archaeological treasures is estimated at $150-200 million per year,” Vitaly Churkin wrote in a letter to the UN’s Security Council.
The Russian envoy also described how historical objects were dealt with by the IS group’s “antiquities division”, which is understood to deal with the items like natural resources – to be exploited and sold.
Ambassador Churkin’s letter also implied Turkish cuplability in the proliferation of the illegal trade.
“The main centre 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,” Churkin wrote.
On Thursday, Turkey issued a statement saying that it was looking into the Russian claims.
“Even though the claims in the Russian media and recently brought to the UN by the Russian authorities have been made for political purposes and as propaganda, they are being seriously investigated,” a Turkish foreign ministry official said.
“Turkey will make every effort it can to protect cultural assets, which are the common heritage of humanity, and ensure they are safely passed on to future generations.”