Yabroud’s Cultural Treasures Fall Victim to Looting by Russia, Hezbollah

Regime loyalists, with the help of Russian experts, have been excavating Syrian antiquities in the southern Qalamoun region and shipping them off to unknown locations

Coinciding with the beginning of the Russian intervention in the Syria's five-year civil war, a number of regime loyalists have exploited their strong relationship with Russian military leaders to steal what remains of the ancient wealth held by Syrian land for thousands of years.

The intervention’s negative impacts can be seen in their effect on the identity and civilization of the Syrian people, as the city of Yabroud in the Damascus countryside has witnessed systematic excavation and looting of Syrian antiquities through Russians with ties to the Assad regime and the Lebanese Hezbollah militia.

Local activists said that “a large temple from before the birth of Christ, a Jewish synagogue (the ancient Mar Maroun Temple) in the Mar Maroun mountain, was discovered days ago in the area of Yabroud adjacent to the Syrian-Lebanese border, which is under the control of Assad’s forces and the Hezbollah militia.”

Speaking to Al-Souria Net, the official spokesman for the general authority for the city of Yabroud, Abu al-Jowd al-Qalamouni, said: “A number of Russian experts have been carrying out excavations of the antiquities for about three months, in cooperation with people close to Moscow, notably George al-Haswani and Abou Saleem Daboul, the general supervisor for the excavations, which are taking place because of his wide influence in the area.”

He added that: “[The Jewish synagogue] was discovered under the supervision of the Russian experts with Russian excavation tools. The Assad regime has become a mere means of gaining access to these monuments and protecting the missions.”

Qalamouni noted: “The discovered antiquities were transported by large cars to al-Nasariyah airport in eastern Qalamoun, and from there transported to Damascus. Their destination after that is not known. Most likely, they go to Moscow.”

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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