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World Museums Warn Of Traffic In Looted Iraqi Antiquities

Museum experts from around the world have issued an "emergency red list" to help identify Iraqi antiquities at risk of being looted and illegally exported.

The list from the International Council of Museums in Paris highlights objects that are popular on the black market, such as sculptures, stone tablets, vases, and coins, and tells customs and police officers how to spot stolen ancient treasures.

Jean-Luc Martinez, the head of the Louvre Museum, said the Islamic State militant group seems bent on destroying priceless works of art in a kind of "cultural cleansing" akin to its ethnic cleansing of minorities in Iraq and Syria.

Items on the list range from millennia-old Mesopotamian goods to 19th-century artifacts from the Ottoman Empire.

Art dealers should "stop buying objects that come from Syria and Iraq," said council President Hans-Martin Hinz.

While Islamic militants claim the art objects promote idolatry, museum officials said IS also maintains a lucrative business excavating and selling the artifacts on the black market.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP