Turkish mercenaries continue to loot the archaeological site of Tel Katex, close to the road linking the canton of Efrin to the Raco District on the Şiyê juncture.
It was confirmed by the Directory of Antiquities of the Efrin Canton that the Turkish Occupation State and its affiliated mercenaries dug the perimeter of the Tal Katex site with heavy machinery and looted the archeological findings.
Digging work was carried out in three sites of the Tal Katex archaeological site, the first to the east of the site that lies between the train bridge and the hill’s base to the east, and the second was close to the highway juncture to the Raco District and Şiyê, to the north of the railway, and the third on the highway to Raco.
In 2018, the Directory of Antiquates had made clear that the area which was dug was 5000m2 in perimeter, noting that caravans, tents and all heavy machinery are seen close to the site, hinting that intense work is being carried out on the site.
In July 2019, the Directory of Antiquities announced that digging and sabotage operations had reached Akropol, and that around 18000m2 has been sabotaged and that some olive trees were cut down, in addition to the digging of a space equating to 6 hectares in the third site close to the Raco road.
It was noted by the Directory of Antiquities that Turkish Occupation Forces and its affiliated mercenaries continue to destruct and loot the archaeological sites and hills. The looted findings are being smuggled out of the country to Turkish borders, amid complete blackout on the crime against human history by the media.
The areas under Turkish occupation since the country’s direct involvement in the Syrian conflict in 2016 have witnessed widespread looting and destruction of archaeological and cultural heritage sites. Grave sites and places of worship are desecrated and ravaged in the hunt for artifacts or precious metals.
In April, members of the SNA desecrated a Yezidi holy place, the Sheikh Ali shrine, in the village of Basoufan, south of Cafrin (Afrin). The dome of the shrine was destroyed, and the tomb of Sheikh Ali exhumed in search of gold and artifacts. According to a local Yezidi, the shrine dates back to the first century A.D.
Following its invasion of Cafrin in January 2018, Turkish forces built a military base on top of Jinderis Hill, an active archaeological site.
Also during the Cafrin invasion, Turkey significantly damaged Ain Dara, an Iron Age Syro-Hittite temple dating back to 1,300 B.C. Of no military value, and with no military presence, Turkish Air Force jet fighters reduced approximately 60% of the site to rubble, destroying the entire façade.
Ain Dara was later used by factions of the SNA as a live-fire training site in late November 2019. Not long after, one of the sites major elements, the basalt lion, was stolen by the Hamza Division, a member of the SNA.