More than 100 groups sell stolen antiques in the Middle East on Facebook

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GENOA (Sputnik) – More than 100 groups are dedicated to selling old stolen securities in the Middle East on Facebook, the co-founder of the ATHAR project, investigating illegal trade in cultural monuments, Amr al Azm, told Sputnik.

"Currently more than 100 groups are dedicated to the active sale of antiques, its number tends to grow, instead of decreasing, "he said adding that the social network helped merchants expand their activity considerably in a short period of time.

According to Amr al Azm, the elimination of such Facebook groups would make it impossible to follow the emergence of previously unregistered cultural values.
They are objects that they were not stolen from museums, so Facebook posts are the only information you have about them, he explained.
"They were literally lifted off the ground and the only proof of their existence is the photos posted on Facebook, if they are deleted, we will not know anything more about those values, so it is necessary that Facebook keep that data and cooperate with judicial bodies and people like those of our project, who have a lot of experience and can contribute to the cessation of the use of said platform for sales purposes, "he said.

ATHAR project participants cooperate with various theft witnesses and then search for stolen items on Facebook and detect users who create accounts for sale.

The director of the Department of Antiquities and Museums of Syria, Mahmoud Hamud, previously said that in eight years they were looted or destroyed until 10,000 archaeological monuments of the country, of which some were over 5,000 years old.

Amr al Azm also revealed that terrorists often use Lebanon as a starting point to take out the stolen works of art in Syria.
"Lebanon is the number one point for which stolen values ​​come out, then Turkey and Jordan follow, but less used for this purpose, customers who acquire them come from various countries," of the Persian Gulf, Southeast Asia, of Europe and America, he added.
Syria lives since March 2011 a conflict in which government forces face armed opposition groups and terrorist organizations.

Syrian government forces are responsible for eliminating the latest pockets of resistance from terrorist groups that remain after the defeat of ISIS (Islamic State, banned in Russia and other countries), but in the foreground the objectives of political arrangement, economic reconstruction and return of refugees.



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