Icons, stolen from Maaloula, stored under lock and key at the Directorate General of Antiquities.
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The international cooperation, which has been going on for many years, has taken on new importance as the conflicts in Iraq and Syria threaten to destroy cultural heritage across the region, Culture Minister Raymond Areiji explained.According to FATF, 90 percent of Syria's cultural artifacts are located in areas affected by the ongoing civil war, and "large-scale" smuggling has emerged in many areas.Dating back a few hundred years, the items are not archaeological pieces but, according to Areiji, the icons are important to preserve.This is not the first time items stolen from Syria during the civil war have been returned after being seized in Lebanon. Several months ago, Deeb traveled to Beirut and returned to Syria with 69 artifacts, including ancient mosaics and stone relics taken from Apamea, an archaeological site in Hama province. While many stolen antiquities seized in Lebanon have been identified and returned, Areiji said that establishing the origin of artifacts is a difficult task. Having suffered from more than 15 years of civil strife, Lebanon is well suited to shield cultural artifacts from the scourge of war, Maila-Afeiche said.
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