Looted Syrian artefacts from Palmyra spotted in Lebanese official's office

Looted Syrian artefacts from Palmyra spotted in Lebanese official's office
The statues seen behind Lebanese MP, Nohad Machnouk, were reportedly stolen from Palmyra during his run as the Lebanese Minister of Interior.
2 min read
24 October, 2021
Palmyra has seen many of it's structures destroyed and artefacts looted for sale on the black market during Syria's decade-long war [Getty]

Statues looted from Syria's Palmyra have allegedly appeared in the office of Lebanese MP Nohad Machnouk, according to local reports who said that the artefacts were spotted in the background during a televised interview with the official.

The heads of the Palmyra statues, which were stolen from the Syrian museum between 2014 and 2015, were quickly identified in the Al-Jadeed TV interview by Saad Fansa - a governing board member of El-Adiyat Association for the Protection of Antiquities in Damascus told Enab Baladi.

The Lebanese MP, who served as interior minister and is a suspect in the Beirut blast case, told Megaphone news site the artefacts have been in Machnouk's office for over ten years and are registered at the culture ministry in line with regulations.

Lebanon has become a major market for antiquities brought in from Syria, as traffickers contributed to the looting and trade of illegal antiquities from Syria.

The International Criminal Police (INTERPOL) requested Syria’s Directorate-General for Antiquities and Museums (SDGAM) to provide it with descriptions of looted artefacts, however the directorate said it does not have antiquities archives and will address foreign missions who worked in Syria to secure them, Syrian journalist Omar Al-Buniya told Enab Baladi.

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Syrian regime officials have reportedly carried out illegal antiquities trade, according to Ayman Al-Nabo, the director of Idlib's City Museum, adding that SDGAM did not archive antiquities "intentionally", to allow for "easy smuggling".

Idlib's antiquities directorate managed to salvage seven sculptures from Palmyra, a UNESCO world heritage site which has seen many of its structures destroyed and sculptures looted during the decade-long Syrian war, which are now preserved in Idlib's museum, Al-Nabo said.