Government security services arrest judge accused of smuggling antiquities in Homs

HOMS, Syria (North Press) – On November 16, government security services arrested a judge working in the judiciary of the Syrian government in the city of Homs on charges of smuggling antiquities with his private car.

Since the beginning of the war in Syria in March 2011, the illegal excavation movement has been active throughout the country.

According to official estimates of the United Nations, Syria and Iraq have witnessed the largest looting operations in the world during the contemporary period.

A source of Homs governorate police told North Press that the judge’s arrest took place during a surprise raid by the Criminal Security Agency in Homs.

“The smuggled antiquities that were seized included small statues, pottery and engraved panels with historical and monetary value,” the source added.

He pointed out that the Criminal Security officers expanded the scope of their investigation to track down the rest of the cell members after the arrest of the judge.

Later, it managed to arrest a cell that smuggled antiquities numbering seven individuals, whose duties were divided between securing antiquities, passing on and promoting them, and communicating with merchants and brokers.

The northern and northeastern areas of Syria are still witnessing illegal excavations, and the two areas are considered a historical reservoir for statues and monuments, many of which date back to the Roman era.

Despite decisions issued by UNESCO and The United Nations Security Council to stop smuggling operations in Syria, it was unable to stop it.

Syria contains between eight and ten thousand archaeological sites and about 40 museums, of which more than a thousand have been subjected to vandalism and destruction, according to reports.

Reporting by Adam Afram