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IS says it destroyed Palmyra busts

Associated Press

BEIRUT – Islamic State group militants have destroyed six archaeological pieces from the historic town of Palmyra that were confiscated from a smuggler, the group said.

An IS statement released late Thursday said the six busts were found when the smuggler was stopped at a checkpoint. The issue was referred to an Islamic court in the northern Syrian town of Manbij, which ordered that they be destroyed and the man be whipped.

Photographs released by the group showed IS militants destroying the busts with large hammers. Another photo showed the smuggler being whipped.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday it was unclear if the busts were authentic or if the militants destroyed fake busts as a cover for the IS group’s own antiquities smuggling.

While there is no firm evidence of the amount of money being made by the Islamic State group from looting antiquities, satellite photos and anecdotal evidence confirm widespread plundering of archaeological sites in areas under IS control.

IS captured the historic Syrian town of Palmyra in May from government forces.

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