People, Travel

Iran Offers Help to Protect Iraq’s Heritage

Iran Offers  Help to Protect Iraq’s HeritageIran Offers  Help to Protect Iraq’s Heritage

The Islamic Republic of Iran will help protect at-risk Iraqi artifacts, deputy head of Iran Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO), Mohammad-Hassan Talebian has announced, IRNA reported.

The announcement came after the destruction of invaluable relics by the Islamic State (IS) terrorists in the northern city of Mosul.

“We have sent three separate letters. One to Irina Bokova, the head of the UN cultural agency, demanding swift action and practical measures to safeguard historical monuments and artifacts in Iraq,” Talebian said.

The second correspondence was to the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), where Tehran called on its members to condemn IS’s “barbaric act”; while in the third letter went to Iraq’s tourism and antiquities minister, with Iran’s offer to provide Baghdad with “any kind of help” it would need in the face of atrocities by terrorists.

“We are willing to send a team of specialists to Iraq to collect the damaged artifacts, to bring them to Iran for repair, restoration, and safekeeping until the country becomes more stable.  At-risk Iraqi artifacts can be kept under Iran’s protection for as long the Iraqi government requires,” he noted, adding that destruction of ancient artifacts and the legacy of past civilizations “is by no means acceptable in Islam or the Islamic culture.”

IS has released a new video on February 26 showing militants using sledgehammers and drills to smash ancient statues at the Mosul Museum, which had on display Assyrian artifacts dating back to the 9th century B.C.

The destruction of ancient artifacts in the militant-held city is believed to be the worst cultural tragedy since Iraq’s national museum was ransacked in the chaos that followed the US-led invasion of the country in 2003. The Arab country officially reopened its national museum in the capital city of Baghdad on Saturday with officials describing it as a response to ISIL’s act of violence.

Iraq’s Deputy Tourism and Antiquities Minister Qais Hussein Rashid said the events in Mosul prompted the Iraqi authorities to speed up their work as they sought to open the national museum on Saturday “as a response to what the gangs of Daesh (ISIL) did.”

During the opening ceremony, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi condemned the “barbaric, criminal terrorists” for their action, vowing to bring them to justice.