The United States Repatriates Cultural Heritage Objects and Fragments to the Government of Iraq

The United States Ambassador to Iraq, Stuart Jones, joined the Minister of Tourism and Antiquities, Mr. Adil Fahad Shirshab, in a repatriation ceremony at which 700 objects and fragments were returned to the government of Iraq at the National Museum in Baghdad.  These artifacts were recovered during a raid on the Syrian compound of Da’esh senior leader Abu Sayyaf on May 15, 2015.

In his remarks, Ambassador Jones said “These artifacts are indisputable evidence that Da’esh – beyond its terrorism, brutality, and destruction – is also a criminal gang that is looting antiquities from museums and historical sites and selling them on the black market.  The list of Da’esh’s atrocities and crimes is long, and includes theft and smuggling of Iraqi heritage and culture.  Da’esh is stealing your antiquities, and we are giving them back to you.”

As Da’esh attempts to finance its terrorist organization through the illegal trade of stolen archeological objects, the United States is working with the international coalition to stem the flow of terrorist financing. Through partnership with international organizations, the United States has developed the Emergency Red List of Iraqi Antiquities at Risk to enable customs officials to identify and detain objects from Iraq that have been looted and smuggled.

Since 2005, the United States has repatriated over 3000 archaeological and heritage objects to Iraq.  We will continue to make every effort to ensure that Iraq’s cultural heritage is restored to the Iraqi people.

The return of these artifacts demonstrates once again U.S. commitment to assisting Iraq in its efforts to protect its ancient and precious historical legacy.  This action directly supports Section IV, Part 6 of the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, which calls for the promotion of Iraqi efforts to preserve Iraqi cultural heritage and protect archeological antiquities, and assist Iraq in recovering and restoring its smuggled artifacts.