Russian Ministry of Defence said Turkish-backed Syrian National Army (SNA) have been looting archaeological sites in the district of Turkish-occupied Afrin since 2018, reported Syrian Arab News.
Oleg Egorov from Russian Coordination Center in Syria made the exclusive statement on behalf of the Russian Ministry of Defence.
“Terrorist groups are conducting archaeological excavations in search of architectural and historical monuments and artefacts near Afrin,” said Egorov.
Stressing that the province is under Turkish occupation, Egorov said these groups use “modern and heavy equipment and explosives, causing severe damage to sites of Syrian cultural heritage”.
Egorov added that the antiquities are sent to Turkey to be sold on the black market.
Residents of Maabatli district of Afrin said that Turkey sent heavy machinery into the area, which has been controlled by Turkey-backed groups, to search for and excavate antiquities in order to loot them, North Press reported.
The archaeological digs began under the supervision of the Turkish-backed Muhammad al-Fateh faction which controls the area.