Ancient statues looted in Lebanese war returned decades later

The marble bull’s head made 2,400 years ago for a Phoenician temple was stolen in Byblos in 1981 at the height of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war.
Updated 13 January 2018
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Ancient statues looted in Lebanese war returned decades later

BEIRUT: A marble bull’s head made 2,400 years ago for a Phoenician temple and looted during Lebanon’s civil war arrived in Beirut on Friday after American officials found it in the US and sent it home.
The object — along with two partial statues that the US is also returning — will be displayed in the National Museum in Beirut early next month, Lebanon’s Culture Ministry said in a statement.
They were stolen from a storehouse in Byblos in 1981 at the height of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, as Christian and Muslim militias battled each other across much of the country.
In recent years, wars in Iraq and Lebanon’s neighbor Syria have laid waste their cultural heritage and created a huge market in looted antiquities, helping to fund Daesh militants.
The Manhattan District Attorney’s office in New York said last month it was returning the three statues to Lebanon and was forming an antiquities trafficking unit to stop the trade in looted artifacts.
The three pieces, all excavated during the 1960s and 1970s from the temple of Eshmoun in the port of Sidon and dating from between the fourth and sixth centuries BC, had been sold to private collectors in the US.
The bull’s head was identified by a curator while on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art as being among the antiquities stolen in Lebanon.
Located on the east coast of the Mediterranean, Lebanon was an important part of the classical world, home to the Phoenician civilization and part of the Persian and Roman empires. It has several major ancient sites.
During the civil war, curators at its National Museum, which was located on a deadly front line, protected treasures that were not looted by sealing them up in the basement or encasing them in cement.
Others were located in other sites around Lebanon, including to Byblos, an ancient port town north of Beirut, where the three items returned on Friday were stolen.


Militants kill 10 Iran Guards at Iraqi border post: Agency

Updated 4 min 14 sec ago
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Militants kill 10 Iran Guards at Iraqi border post: Agency

  • The agency quoted a Revolutionary Guards statement as saying that several of the attacking "terrorists" were also killed in the fighting in which a munitions depot was blown up
  • There is little coordination between Iranian and Iraqi forces over security of the porous border that has also been used by Daesh to enter Iran

DUBAI: Militants killed 10 Iranian Revolutionary Guards in an attack on a post on the Iraqi border on Saturday, Iran's semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, the latest deadly clash in an area where armed opposition Kurdish groups are active.
The agency quoted a Revolutionary Guards statement as saying that several of the attacking "terrorists" were also killed in the fighting in which a munitions depot was blown up.
Provincial security official Hosein Khosheqbal told state television that 11 members of the Guards' voluntary Basij forces were killed in the overnight violence in the Marivan area, which he blamed on the Kurdish armed opposition group PJAK.
"The latest news is that the Basij and Guards forces are in hot pursuit of the attackers," Khosheqbal said.
The Party of Free Life of Kurdistan (PJAK) -- an outlawed group that seeks self-governance for Iran's Kurds and has links to Turkey's militant Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) -- operates in the border area, along with other armed Kurdish groups based in northern Iraq.
Earlier this month, the Revolutionary Guards said they had killed three militants in a security operation near the border with Iraq, and nine militants were reported killed by the Guards last month further north on the border.
There is little coordination between Iranian and Iraqi forces over security of the porous border that has also been used by Daesh to enter Iran.
Intelligence Minister Mahmoud Alavi said on Tuesday that security forces in southwest Iran arrested four suspected Daesh operatives who were planning attacks.
In June 2017, Daesh militants carried out coordinated attacks at the parliament building in Tehran and the mausoleum of Iranian revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini south of the capital, killing at least 18 people.