Looted excavations documented in Turkish-occupied Girê Spî

The Girê Spî (Tal Abyad) Council has documented the looting of cultural heritage in the occupied territories in northern and eastern Syria and appeals to international institutions to build pressure on the Turkish state.

Northern and eastern Syria is considered one of the treasure troves of humanity's cultural heritage. Temples and settlements up to 8,000 years old characterise the region. However, the cultural riches are also becoming a target for occupying forces. On 9 October 2019, the occupation of the region around Girê Spî began. Since then, the archaeological sites of the region have been destroyed and looted. Military bases of the occupation forces have been built on many archaeological sites. Photographs taken by the Cultural Committee of Tell Sahlan, a settlement mound with the earliest finds from the Bronze Age and Assyrian settlement remains, show how the site is being destroyed by bulldozers.

Ferhad Şukrî from the Cultural Committee of the Girê Spî People's Council reports on his work: "We are trying to document the historical places in the occupied territories." Şukrî speaks of 40 documented places and reports that many of them have already been looted by the Turkish state or its mercenaries. The artefacts stolen during looting are brought to Turkey and end up on the art market through traders.

Şukri appeals: "The Turkish state is trying to destroy the civilisation and culture of our region. We call on the relevant institutions to protect historical sites and put pressure on the Turkish state to stop crimes against historical sites."