BAGHDAD — The spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities, Ahmed al-Olaywi highlighted the achievements of the government of Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the field of recovering Iraq’s looted antiquities, saying that Iraq managed during a year and a half to recover more than 17,000 antiquities that were smuggled outside the country.
In a statement to the press, al-Olaywi pointed out that the number of recovered looted antiquities is the largest recovery operation in the history of the work of the General Authority of Antiquities.
Al-Olaywi added that there are recovery operations from foreign countries registered with the Ministry, as some of these pieces were stolen years ago. Some were extracted by random exhumation, which is the major problem facing the ministry.
“There are strict laws carrying the death penalty against antiquities smugglers,” he declared.
He also pointed out that Iraq filed a complaint with the international policing organization INTERPOL against some countries for the purpose of putting pressure on them to return the antiquities.
It is estimated that there are more than 15,000 missing artifacts that the Ministry is seeking to recover, many belonging to the civilizations of the Chaldean–Syriac–Assyrian people.