Turkey plunder the antiquities of northern Syria and obliterate its ancient historical monuments.
Since the beginning of their military intervention in Syria, the Turkish forces have worked to change the nature of these areas, whether in terms of their demographic composition through the displacement of the people, or in terms of their identity and history by targeting archaeological monuments with systematic theft operations.
The Turkish forces and its factions have targeted all the archaeological sites within the areas captured by northern Syria, through continuous sweeping and the theft of archaeological finds, where the Turkish intelligence runs, according to the sources, an integrated network covering the stages of looting of Syrian antiquities from the stage of identifying the targeted sites and assigning the Ankara factions to bulldozing operations, through the stage of transferring antiquities and coordinating with the Turkish border guards to facilitate their entry to Turkey, where the sale of the Syrian antiquities on the black market is managed with the participation and knowledge of the Turkish government.
The northern regions of Syria contain many archaeological sites that have been stolen by the Turkish forces, such as the site of “Tal Halaf” southwest of “Ras al-Ain” in the northwestern countryside of Al-Hasakah, which includes monuments dating back to the 6th millennium BC, and the hill was subjected to systematic theft by militants of the “Ankara” factions, who are under the supervision of the Turkish officers, while the theft also included the neighborhoods of “Al Mahatta” and “Al Abra” and the old churches in the city of “Ras Al Ain”, where there are artifacts that embody the civilization and history of the Syrian region, in addition to what was exposed to the “Kafifa” site in the countryside of “Tal Abyad”, north of Raqqa, from similar theft at the hands of the Turkish forces and their factions.
The northwestern regions of Syria include dozens of villages and towns known as the “forgotten cities” that were classified by “UNESCO” on the World Heritage List, given that they date back to the period between the 1st and 7th centuries AD during the Byzantine era, as the sites haven’t been safe from the Turkish criminality, so the Ankara forces and their forces stole archaeological artifacts from several sites, most notably the town of “Baqerha” in the northern countryside of Idlib, and after that they completely bulldozed the area to erase the traces of the crime, but the emergence of a number of mosaic paintings and artifacts that were present in the area in the Turkish market proved the Turkish involvement in the robbery.
The “Afrin” area in the northern countryside of Aleppo is one of the most prominent targets of the Turkish forces in the theft of antiquities, due to the important historical sites it contains, and the artifacts contained in these sites that define the history and civilization of the region, at a time during which the Turkish forces seek to erase the Syrian identity from the region, and abandoning its areas of control in an attempt to add it to its lands.
Among the most prominent sites that were stolen in Afrin recently is the “Qaqa Waqah” hill located on the road to the town of “Rajo” in the countryside of Afrin, in which the razing operations continued and the search for archaeological finds buried there from the middle of 2019 until the beginning of this year.
Meanwhile, the archaeological shrine of “Nabi Huri” northeast of Afrin was subjected to systematic theft and obliteration of its features and identity directly, as at the end of last year, the Turkish government announced the transformation of the shrine belonging to the followers of the “Yezidi” sect into a mosque, and the widespread pictures of the shrine showed flags spreading the Turkish authorities in all its parts in preparation for the announcement of the final seizure of it.
As for the archaeological site of Ain Dara in Afrin it was targeted by Turkish bombings during the period of battles in the region at the beginning of 2018, then the “Ankara” factions prepared what was left of it with theft, and transferring the stolen antiquities to Turkey.
Other archaeological sites in northern Aleppo have also been subjected to thefts and bombing, bulldozing and maiming, most notably the “Brad” site in the countryside of Aleppo, which includes the tomb of Saint Maron, the patron saint of the Maronite community, the archaeological site “Gendiros”, and the shrines and temples in the villages of “Ashq Qibar” and Qastal Jundu, in the countryside of Afrin, Rajo district, and the village of Siddiyka, among many others.
A long list of sites, thefts and violations committed by the Turkish forces and their factions in the Syrian regions, through which, according sources, they aimed not only to reap huge sums of money through the sale of antiquities on the black market and smuggling them from Turkey to Europe, but also to obliterate the Syrian identity in those areas and tampering with its history, roots and identity, as part of a broad Turkification campaign that Ankara has been practicing since the beginning of its military intervention in Syria.
Sources of the Syrian Documentation Center reported that the majority of the antiquities that were stolen in various Syrian lands arrived in Turkey, and at a time during which the total of the pieces that the Turkish government announced that they had confiscated from smugglers reached 25,000 pieces coming from Syria, the number of pieces that have been smuggled and sold is estimated in the hundreds of thousands and may reach up to one million artifacts, and these pieces are priceless due to the historical value that they possess, whose roots date back to thousands of years.