National museum in Iraq to reopen after recovery of looted artefacts

Baghdad: After some 17,000 looted artefacts were recovered from the United States, Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has ordered the reopening of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad.  "With the return of 17,000 Iraqi artefacts, I ordered the reopening of the Iraq Museum to the public and researchers," al-Kadhimi said in a tweet on Friday.

According to the official statistics, about 15,000 pieces of cultural relics from the Stone Age, the Babylonian, Assyrian and Islamic periods were stolen or destroyed by looters after Saddam Hussein's regime was toppled by US-led troops in 2003. The Mosul Museum and ancient cities of Hatra and Nimrud had also been destroyed and large numbers of antiquities were smuggled after the Islamic State terror group took control of large territories in northern and western Iraq in 2014.

On July 28, Minister of Culture, Tourism, and Antiquities Hassan Nadhim said in a statement that the retrieved tablets date back to 4,500 years ago and bear cuneiform inscriptions documenting the trade exchanges during the Sumerian civilization.  The next day, al-Kadhimi and his delegation returned to Baghdad after several days of visit to the US and brought back the 17,000 artefacts. More than 10,000 sites in Iraq are officially recognised as archaeological sites, but most of them are not safeguarded and many were still being looted.

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