Iran’s Department of Cultural Heritage and Tourism has requested that any of Iraq’s historical artifacts facing harm there be loaned to Iran for safe keeping.
ISNA reported on Saturday that Iran has written to the head of UNESCO, ISESCO and the head of Iraq’s Department of Cultural Heritage to say Iran is prepared to transfer ”artifacts held in Iraqi museums to Iran for safekeeping until stability and peace return to Iraq”.
Last week, the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) posted a video on the internet showing their members destroying ancient artifacts in the Mosul Museum. ISIS regards the artifacts as symbols of paganism.
The head of UNESCO, Irina Bukova, had appealed to the United Nations to convene an emergency meeting and take immediate action to preserve Iraq’s cultural heritage.
Iran’s offer comes one day after the reopening of the National Museum of Iraq, which has been closed for 12 years after the U.S. attack on Iraq. During this time many of its holdings were looted, and the Iraqi government made a concentrated effort to recover them in order to achieve the reopening.
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, was taken over by ISIS forces last summer.