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Syria displays hundreds of artifacts retrieved from rebel-held areas

The Associated Press

Syrian women look at Roman funerary statues dating back to roughly 200 A.D. at an exhibition at the Opera House, in Damascus on Oct. 8.

The Associated PressDAMASCUS (AP) — An exhibition in Syria’s capital is showcasing hundreds of artifacts that officials say were retrieved from areas formerly held by rebels and from abroad, amid recent gains by the military.

Those on display at the capital’s Opera House are just some of the roughly 20,000 artifacts that officials estimate have been recovered since the country’s war began in 2011. Among those were statues from the Roman era, a statue of the ancient Greek goddess of victory, Nike, and funerary statues recovered from the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

Syria’s conflict has proved particularly dangerous for the country’s rich archaeological heritage. Some sites and artifacts were destroyed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, while others have been looted, pillaged or illegally trafficked.

Qassim Mohammed, assistant secretary at the national museum, said Syria still has a long way to go in recovering its historical heritage.

“From 2011, until now, we only have approximate numbers, we don’t have final numbers. But we believe about 20,000 artifacts have been recovered, either from militant-held areas or through border controls,” he told The Associated Press.

An unknown number of artifacts have been smuggled abroad and sold, and he said he still sees such items for sale on antiquities trafficking websites.Speech

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