Ian Bach

Viewing conflicts through the eye of Counterinsurgency COIN – Since 2007

Culture Brigade – Syrian “Monuments Men” Race to Protect Antiquities as Looting Bankrolls Terror

TURKEY-SYRIA BORDER—In a hotel basement on the Turkish side of this combat-scarred frontier, a group of unlikely warriors is training to fight on a little-known front of Syria’s civil war: the battle for the country’s cultural heritage.
The recruits aren’t grizzled fighters but graying academics, more at home on an archaeological dig than a battlefield. For months, they have journeyed across war-torn regions of Syria, braving shelling, smugglers and the jihadists of Islamic State. Their mission: to save ancient artifacts and imperiled archaeological sites from profiteers, desperate civilians and fundamentalists who have plundered Syria’s rich artistic heritage to fund their war effort.
Art historians and intelligence officials say that antiquities smuggling by Islamic State has exploded in recent months, aggravating the pillaging by government forces and opposition factions. Looting, often with bulldozers, is now the militant group’s second-largest source of finance after oil, Western intelligence officials say.
Dutch archaeologist Rene Teijgeler, left, and Isber Sabrine, a Syrian-born archaeologist based in Barcelona, shown in a market in Gaziantep, Turkey, are helping train the Syrian monuments men how to catalog and preserve sites.
Dutch archaeologist Rene Teijgeler, left, and Isber Sabrine, a Syrian-born archaeologist based in Barcelona, shown in a market in Gaziantep, Turkey, are helping train the Syrian monuments men how to catalog and preserve sites. PHOTO: AYMAN OGHANNA FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
“What started as opportunistic theft by some has turned into an organized transnational business that is helping fund terror,” said Michael Danti, an archaeologist at Boston University who is advising the U.S. State Department on how to tackle the problem. “It’s the gravest cultural emergency I’ve seen.”
In sessions at this secret location, the loose-knit band of academics is being trained how to fight back. They are instructed on how to get to key sites and document both what is there and what is already missing. Another skill: how to hide precious objects that may be at risk of looting and record the GPS locations so they can be retrieved at a later date. The group also uses disguises: posing as antiques dealers to take photographs of looted artifacts.
The group is led by a portly, middle-aged archaeologist trained at Damascus University, who with his colleagues operates in secrecy because of the dangerous nature of the work. He likens his group to World War II’s “Monuments Men”: a small group of academics that helped save Europe’s cultural heritage from the Nazis and became the subject of a 2014 Hollywood film starring George Clooney.
“It’s dangerous work. We have to get in and out of a site very quickly,” he said, speaking in a dimly lighted basement room used for the training. “The looting has become systematic, and we can’t keep up.”
The war in Syria has taken an epic toll, with more than 200,000 people killed since the uprising began in 2011.
Alongside the human cost, the cultural damage has mounted. Ancient cities such as Homs and Aleppo have been reduced to rubble. Roman, Greek, Babylonian and Assyrian sites have been destroyed by fighting and looting, and five of the six Unesco World Heritage sites in Syria have been seriously damaged.
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About Ian Bach

Independent Online Terrorist Hunter I teach people how to hunt down and shut down the Bad guys web sites. I also teach about the various countries and cultures. Like most cases it is a small group of bsd eggs that in this case call themselves Muslims but in actual fact they are more like how KKK call themselves ",True Christisians". But in both cases / groups they preach a perverted and twisted view a religion. In the case of ISIS, all Qaeda, al Nusra, and the rest of the terrorists who claim to be true Muslims most of these groups follow the Wahhabi teachings. They are almost all Sunni and their goal is global domination. Yet they must be very bad at math and history. Since most Muslims prefer a separation of church and state and also mist are against Shari's Law. Esp the twisted and overly exaggerated form of Sharia Law that the Wahhabi and other bad guys use. I have studied terrorism, insurgencies, and the best tried and proven methods that work to fight terrorism. My Blogs have many links and articles that can show you who are the best and most knowledgeable people in the fields or counterinsurgency and counter terrorism. When I find great practitioner's I always listen to them to find out who they learned from and who they respect and admire. Thus I am always learning new stuff from the best and most successful in their fields of knoeledge. I strive to be an open and ethical source of information, I have met many awesome, kind, caring, and loving wonderful people many who I am close friends with now from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Iran, and many from S.E. Asia which also has a high percent of their populations that are Muslim.We must always strive to be aware people are not any one particular religion via that's what they chose to be, instead most people are a particular religion because that's what their parents and/or county is. I was raised Catholic but because I became Interested in magic ,(illusion - smoke n mirrors) and science which lead me to study many religions, and I would call myself an atheist. Yet sometimes when I lose my keys ZI find myself praying "Hail Marys" and a few "Our Fathers" which most always aides me in finding my keys. My belief is that if I just frantically look around for my krys, good luck it takes me for ever. But by saying these prayers it is like s sort of meditation and my mind becomes more calm, which is why it helps my find my keys.

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This entry was posted on February 17, 2015 by in Iraq, Syria and tagged , , , , , , .
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