US Hands Over Seized Antiquities to Iraq

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Home to what was once ancient Mesopotamia, Iraq has long been a target of looters and thieves intent on stealing the country's treasure trove of antiquities. But a large cache of priceless artifacts has been returned to Iraq's government, thanks to a multi-year initiative by U.S. customs authorities to intercept items being smuggled into the United States. From Washington, VOA's Michael Bowman reports.

Just how much of Iraq's wealth of antiquities has been stolen from archeological sites may never be known, but looters raided the country's museums during and after the 1991 Gulf War and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Iraq reclaimed a portion of what has been lost over the years in a transfer ceremony at Iraq's embassy in Washington. Ambassador Samir Sumaida'ie took possession of more than 1,000 rare objects, many of which date back to Mesopotamian times.

Handing over the items was the head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Julie Myers.

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