Director of Damascus Countryside Antiquities Dr. Mahmoud Hammoud has underscored that Turkey smuggles Syrian artifacts via mafias to Israel and Europe.
He told ‘Tishreen’ newspaper on Sunday that Turkey sponsors mafias, covers illegal excavations and smuggles the finds to Israel and European markets.
"Turkish businessmen and officers supervised excavation works in Dura-Europos city, located 90 meters above the right bank of the Euphrates river in Syria," Hammoud added, referring to the fact that Turkey had previously occupied Syria and killed millions of peoples and looted artifacts which it had no idea about their values.
"Istanbul museums contains artifacts that came from cities of the Levant," he said, asserting that Syria is Turkey's main rival as regards civilization.
Hammod pointed out that the Syrian heritage witnessed unprecedented attacks during the ongoing terror war on the country, stressing that the Directorate-General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) has protected most of national museums’ collections and has forced world cultural institutes to deal with it as a governmental national institute.
Hundreds of ancient sites damaged
"During the terror war on the country, hundreds of archeological and historical buildings plus hills have been destroyed and looted, especially in Aleppo. For example, Saleheyeh hill at the Euphrates river ( the old Dura-Europos city ) was pillaged by Mafias financed by Turkey and Zionists. While the finds of al-Sheikh Hamad hill were sold in European auctions, " he clarified.
Hammoud indicated that the ancient city of Maaloula, the Saraya building in Nabek city, Monastery of Mar Yakub (St James) in Qara, historical Khan al-Sheih building, Khan Dannoun building and Der Ateyeh museum suffered huge damage.
Excavation works in Eastern Ghouta
"The most dangerous thing is the illegal excavation works being carried out in the Eastern Ghouta of Damascus," he added, stressing that some countries shoulder responsibility for the destruction of the Syrian heritage because of their support to terrorist groups in the country.
Hammoud affirmed that Ministry of Culture and the DGAM will face the burden of rehabilitating the archeological sites after recapturing them by the Syrian Arab army in order to restore the Syrian heritage which represents the memory and national identity of the Syrian people.
"The Syrian heritage is more important than world oil and it requires a strategy to protect it," He concluded.