Turkish police bust PYD-linked archeological artifacts smuggling ring in Istanbul

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Çetin Ayd?n – ISTANBUL
Istanbul police have seized invaluable archeological artifacts smuggled from areas under the control of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) in Syria into Turkey.
The smugglers reportedly planned to sell the objects abroad and send the revenue to the PYD.

Units from Istanbul’s Anti-Smuggling Department seized highly valuable artifacts dating back to the Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkad, Ottoman and Seljuk civilizations.

Among the retrieved artifacts were 3,500-year-old Sumerian jewelries and seals belonging to the Assyrian and Akkad civilizations, as well as rare objects from the Byzantine era.

The retrieved artifacts will be handed over to the Turkish and Islamic Arts Museum, the Topkap? Palace Museum and the Archeology Museum.

The police had obtained information that a number of artifacts had been extracted from ancient grave sites in PYD-controlled areas and the objects would be smuggled into Turkey to be sold later abroad.

Acting on the tipoff, police units launched five separate raids in two weeks. Nine people, including an antiques dealer, were detained in connection with the smuggling. Those detained were later released.

This followed another major operation in Istanbul last month.

On Dec. 21, Istanbul police seized 26,456 ancient artifacts and detained 13 suspects as part of an operation considered the biggest in Turkish history.

Among the items recovered were a golden queen’s crown with an inscription of the Hellenistic god Helios, a bust dedicated to Alexander the Great’s conquest of India and a statue of a goddess dating back to the Hittite era 3,000 years ago.

The 26,456 objects recovered also included Egyptian-origin statues and Phoenician-type teardrop vials.