Opposition groups continue searching and excavating antiquities in Syria’s Afrin

QAMISHLI, Syria (North Press) – A Syrian human rights source revealed, on Sunday, that the Turkish-backed armed opposition groups continue to dig and bulldoze archaeological hills and religious shrines in search of antiquities in the Afrin region, northwest of Syria.

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

Both Syria and Iraq witnessed the largest theft of antiquities in the world during the contemporary period, according to official estimates issued by the United Nations.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in the United Kingdom, said that the Turkish-backed opposition militant groups continue excavating and searching for antiquities in various villages and towns in the Afrin area north-west of Aleppo, including the villages of Tal al-Bir and Afraza in Al-Ma’abatli area in rural Afrin.

Tal al-Bir, in addition to other historical sites in Afrin, have been subjected to digging and excavation operations in the past months, in search of artifacts using heavy machinery.

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

Several historical landmarks in Afrin during the past period witnessed excavation, including Aranda Hill in Sheikh Hadid district and Sheikh Hamid shrine in Qastal Jindo village in Sharran district.

The city of Afrin, on the Syrian-Turkish border, has been under the control of the Turkish military forces and Turkish-backed opposition military groups, since the March 2018 invasion