The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has warned that ISIL terrorist group is committing “cultural cleansing” in Iraq.
UNESCO Chief Irina Bokova said Monday ISIL Takfiri militants have caused irreparable damage to Muslim shrines, churches and precious manuscripts in the cities of Mosul, Tikrit and other areas since June when the terrorist group occupied large swaths of Iraq.
She said that UNESCO had alerted all states as well as “the main museums around the world and the art market, Interpol, the World Customs Organization … by calling for the utmost vigilance over objects that could come from the current looting of Iraqi heritage.”
Experts, who gathered at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters, also warned that ISIL terrorists are destroying and looting age-old heritage sites to sell valued artifacts on the black market abroad.
“There were explosions that destroyed buildings dating back to the Assyrian era,” said Baghdad museum director Qais Rashid, referring to the once powerful, ancient empire.
“Assyrian tablets were stolen and were suddenly found in European cities,” he added, warning that the money the terrorists gain by selling such artifacts would “finance terrorism.”
“There are international mafias … that inform ISIS (ISIL) of what can be sold,” he said.
Rashid also said that ISIL militants “gathered over 1,500 manuscripts from convents and other holy places and burned all of them” in the middle of a square in Mosul.
The Takfiri militants have demolished several holy shrines and mosques belonging to Shia and Sunni Muslims as well as Christian sites in the militancy-riddled regions of Iraq and Syria.
The ISIL terrorists currently control parts of Syria and Iraq. They have carried out heinous crimes in the two countries, including mass executions and beheadings of people.
Senior Iraqi and Syria officials have blamed Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and some other Persian Gulf Arab states for the terrorism in their respective countries.