Jewish artifacts disappear from Damascus in fog of Syria war

Youssef Jajati, a Jewish community leader in Syria, points out the Torah holy book preserved in a silver container in Joubar’s Synagogue which dates back to 718 BC. Artifacts removed from one of the oldest synagogues in the world have gone missing from the Syrian capital after neighborhood officials said they gave them to commanders of a rebel group who never returned them. (AP/Bassem Tellawi, File)
Updated 17 June 2018

Jewish artifacts disappear from Damascus in fog of Syria war

  • The main missing cache, they say, contained torahs written on gazelle leather as well as tapestries and chandeliers
  • Activists say the artifacts, moved from the now-destroyed Jobar Synagogue in Damascus’ eastern Ghouta suburb when it was taken by rebels

BEIRUT: Jewish artifacts, including ancient parchment torahs from one of the world’s oldest synagogues, have gone missing from the Syrian capital amid the tumult of ongoing civil war, with some precious items reportedly surfacing abroad.
Activists say the artifacts, moved from the now-destroyed Jobar Synagogue in Damascus’ eastern Ghouta suburb when it was taken by rebels, were allegedly put into safe keeping to avoid theft and damage in 2013, but twice since then local officials have discovered some are missing.
The main missing cache, they say, contained torahs written on gazelle leather as well as tapestries and chandeliers, and was given to a militia by a local council for safekeeping when rebels surrendered the neighborhood to government forces earlier this year. The armed group says it doesn’t have the items.


Iraqi president discusses foreign troops cut with Trump in Davos

Updated 2 min 19 sec ago

Iraqi president discusses foreign troops cut with Trump in Davos

BAGHDAD: Iraqi President Barham Salih met Donald Trump in Davos on Wednesday and discussed reducing foreign troops in the country, the Iraqi presidency said, after Washington spurned an Iraqi request earlier this month to pull out its troops.
"During the meeting, reducing foreign troops and the importance of respecting the demands of Iraqi people to preserve the country's sovereignty were discussed," the statement said.
Iraq's parliament passed a non-binding resolution on Jan. 5 requesting the government to end the presence of foreign troops in Iraq following US air strikes that killed Iranian commanderl Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis.
The killing of Soleimani, to which Tehran responded with a ballistic missile attack on two Iraqi military bases housing US forces, has highlighted the influence of foreign powers in Iraq, especially Iran and the United States.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi asked Washington to prepare for a US troop withdrawal in line with Iraq's parliament decision, but Trump's administration rebuffed the request.
Washington said later it was exploring a possible expansion of NATO’s mission in Iraq, a plan to “get burden-sharing right in the region”.