SULAIMANI (ESTA) — Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi ordered on Friday the reopening of the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, after 17,000 artifacts were returned from the United States.
“With the return of 17,000 Iraqi artifacts … I ordered the reopening of the Iraq Museum to the public and researchers,” al-Kadhimi said in a tweet.
On Wednesday, Iraqi Culture Minister Hassan Nazim said the U.S. would return to Iraq some 17,000 archaeological treasures dating back 4,000 years and looted in recent decades.
Most of the ancient pieces document “the commercial exchanges during the Sumerian period”, the ministry of culture said in a statement.
Iraq’s antiquities have been extensively looted during decades of war and insurgency, often by organized crime groups, since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.
Archaeological sites across the country have been severely damaged and neglected, and museums looted, with some 15,000 pieces stolen from Iraq’s only national museum in Baghdad.