US returns scores of smuggled artefacts to Iraq

2015-03-16 22:36
The Iraqi National Museum has seen a big turnout by Iraqis eager to see artefacts after re-openning in the wake of demolishing key Assyrian archaeological sites in the Islamic State-held city of Mosul by the extremists. (Karim Kadim, AP)

The Iraqi National Museum has seen a big turnout by Iraqis eager to see artefacts after re-openning in the wake of demolishing key Assyrian archaeological sites in the Islamic State-held city of Mosul by the extremists. (Karim Kadim, AP)

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Washington - More than 60 Iraqi cultural artefacts smuggled into the United States, including a limestone statue of an ancient king, were returned to the government of Iraq on Monday, the Department of Homeland Security said.

The move follows investigations led by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in New York, Baltimore, Austin, Texas, and New Haven, Connecticut, the department said in a statement.

One of the most significant items that was returned is a limestone statue depicting the head of the Assyrian King Sargon II, an eighth century BC ruler.

Immigration and Customs agents seized the looted artefact in August 2008 after an antiquities dealer based in Dubai shipped it to New York. The investigation led to the identification of an international network dealing in illicit cultural artefacts, the statement said.

Other artefacts repatriated to Iraq include gold-plated items, such as a soap dish, looted from the private airport and palace of executed former President Saddam Hussein.

Bronze objects, including a Luristan axe from early Sumeria, and clay reliefs and glass objects were also returned.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit has returned more than 1 200 items to Iraq in four repatriations since 2008, the statement said.

Read more on:    us  |  iraq

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