Sunday, January 18, 2009

Iraq tells US: return Babylonian-era artifacts

The Iraqi Interior Ministry has accused security companies working with the American military of attempting to smuggle out unique archeological artifacts. It is concerned that Babylonian-era Torah manuscripts were smuggled to Israel, the London-based daily Al-Hayat reported. The Jerusalem Post has picked up the story.

"Iraq is searching for over 9,400 artifacts that were lost or stolen since the start of the US-led invasion in May 2003.

"Among these precious artifacts are Babylonian-era Torah manuscripts, which were taken by the US forces in 2003. The US promised it would return them in two years after their renovation, but there is "information pointing to the possibility that they had been smuggled to Israel," Gen. (ret.) Widah Na'srat of the Interior Ministry's Criminal Investigations Department told Al-Hayat.

"Nas'rat indicated he would travel to Washington soon in order to investigate the matter further. According to him, the US has expressed its willingness to continue cooperating with the Iraqis in a serious manner in order to return the missing artifacts.

"At the end of last year, Iraq's ambassador in Washington received 1,046 artifacts, which were stolen from the National museum in Baghdad, the paper wrote."

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