U.S. to return more than 60 smuggled artifacts to Iraq

The United States said the repatriation is part of an increasing cooperation with Iraq in matter of cultural heritage

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More than 60 cultural artifacts will be returned to Iraq this week after they were illegally smuggled into the United States, a statement by the U.S. State Department said Friday.

The State Department said the repatriation is part of an increasing cooperation with Iraq in matters of cultural heritage.

A ceremony will be held on Monday at the Iraqi consulate to repatriate the archeological items, the statement added.

The step comes at a time when Iraq has suffered the destruction of many of its priceless artifacts on the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, according to the press release.

“At a time when ISIL is destroying the ancient monuments and artifacts of Iraq’s rich history, the United States continues to work towards preserving its historical legacy for the Iraqi people and for the world,” the statement added, using another abbrevation of the name of militant group.

A video released by ISIS last month showed militants destroying statues and artefacts in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.

The archeological items - which dated back to thousands of years - were being smashed into pieces, drawing ire from the international community, although later reports suggested that most were plaster replicas.

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