The Basra Museum opened its doors for visitors this week after being closed for more than 25 years, a step to restore the country's cultural heritage damaged in conflicts dating back to the war with Iran four decades ago.
During the opening on Wednesday, Qahtan al-Obeid, head of Basra’s archaeology and heritage, said “the museum has over 2,000 objects that are drawn from the vast storage rooms of Baghdad’s Iraq Museum and 100 were that were looted and found abroad are on display.”
Obeid added that “the preparations for the opening took 10 years," indicating that the first display room opened in 2016.
“Some of the artifacts were stolen by gangs and taken outside of the country. We are not sure if these criminal acts were conducted by ISIS or by smugglers that were selling the treasures in the black market,” al-Obeid said.
Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, many of the Iraq’s ancient statues and pre-Islamic treasures have been either looted or destroyed.