As the United Nations Security Council prepares to confront the Islamic State, more reports are looking at just how much looting and destruction is taking place there, and the claims about the connection between the illicit antiquities trade continues to receive anecdotal support.
The N.Y. Times reported that a draft resolution is going to be discussed to confront the Islamic State on “oil and antiquities”:
The draft resolution, which was scheduled to be discussed by Council members in a closed meeting Friday afternoon, requires all 193 member states of the United Nations to prevent the sale of antiquities from Syria, similar to a measure the Council passed 10 years ago regarding antiquities from Iraq.
And yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported on the efforts of a group called Heritage for Peace, to document looting and work to combat the illicit trade:
In November, 30 senior members of the group were invited to travel to Turkey for training and technology after attracting the attention of NGOs and foreign governments. Only eight could make the trip because fighting with Islamic State blocked their route. The three-day training session in a secret location close to the Syria-Turkish border was run by Heritage for Peace, or HfP, a Barcelona-based NGO that sees heritage preservation as a way to bring warring parties to the negotiating table.
Leading the instruction was Rene Teijgeler, a Dutch archaeologist and former lieutenant colonel in the Dutch army, who ran heritage preservation operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his partner, Isber Sabrine, a Syrian-born archaeologist based in Barcelona.
“We are neutral. We adhere to the Red Cross code of conduct and we are very careful about who we operate with,” said Mr. Teijgeler, pulling on a cigarette in a hotel cafe. “We vet them carefully. You don’t want wild cowboys doing crazy things,” he said.
The training, partly funded by the Dutch government, focused on how to uniformly catalog damage at ancient sites like the Roman amphitheater at Palmyra or the crusader castle of Crac des Chevaliers. Trainees were given laptops and cameras with powerful zooms to help improve their work.