Antiquities smuggling ring broken up in Iraq's Nineveh

A six-member criminal gang specialized in smuggling antiquities was broken up in Mosul, regional capital of Iraq's northern Nineveh province, an Iraqi security source said Wednesday.

"A special security force tracked down and arrested six people involved in stealing and smuggling rare Islamic antiquities and manuscripts in eastern Mosul's Al-Karama district," Mosul Police Lieutenant Iyad Hussein al-Asali told Anadolu Agency.

"Gang members had taken advantage of the unusual conditions that had prevailed during the Daesh terrorist group's three-year occupation of the city," he said.

During this period, from about mid-2014 to mid-2017, gang members had purloined numerous antiquities from different periods of Nineveh's history, according to al-Asali.

"While gang members were looking for buyers, security forces raided the house they were using and arrested three of them," he said.

"Confessions later obtained from the trio allowed security forces to find and arrest the remaining three gang members, who had numerous stolen antiquities in their possession," he added.

Last year, the Iraqi army "liberated" Mosul from Daesh, which had overrun vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq in mid-2014.

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