المرصد السوري لحقوق الانسان
The Syrian Observatory For Human Rights

Searching for antiquities | Ankara-backed factions continue excavating in Afrin, north-west of Aleppo

Aleppo Province – The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights:

Ankara-backed factions continue excavating and searching for antiquities in various villages and towns in the Afrin area north-west of Aleppo, and in the midst of this. Reliable sources have informed SOHR that Turkish-backed factions are excavating “Tal al-Bir” located south of the village of Afraza in Al-Ma’abatli area in rural Afrin.

According to Syrian Observatory sources, Tal al-Bir has been continuously excavated in search of artifacts over the past months since Turkish forces, along with their proxy factions, took control of the city of Afrin in March 2018. According to Observatory sources, the hill has been subjected to sabotage as the factions used heavy excavators while searching for antiquities in the area.

On August 26, reliable sources informed the Syrian Observatory that members of Turkish-backed factions are intensifying their search for hidden archaeological sites in the area of Afrin, after digging and bulldozing the archaeological hills and well-known religious shrines.

The members try to inquire about these sites from the elderly people of the area, by terrorizing them at times and giving them a percentage of the artifacts if found. This usually happens with the full knowledge and consent of Turkish intelligence, which also facilitates their work.

In recent months, the Syrian Observatory monitored Turkish-backed factions continuing their excavations and destruction of religious shrines in search for antiquities in Afrin. The archaeological hill of Aranda in the western countryside of Sheikh Hadid was indiscriminately bulldozed and excavated by these factions.

In the meantime, excavations and vandalism took place at the “Sheikh Hamid” shrine in the village of Qastal Jando in Sharan district in Afrin countryside, while residents accused members of Turkish-backed factions of carrying out such excavations, and with help provided by Turkish intelligence.

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