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Syria's opulent cultural treasures, including six sites on the world heritage list, are at high risk. Illegal excavations and looting have rapidly increased since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, now in its fifth year, damaging many historical sites, while important Syrian cultural property has been siphoned out of the country to end up on the black market or in private collections. Cristina Menegazzi, an official with the U.N. cultural body, said the international agency is seeking to narrow markets for the illicit trade, hoping that by reducing demand and clamping down on potential buyers, the supply would eventually decrease and the business would become less attractive to thieves excavating for antiquities.Looting of Syrian antiquities, especially from sites in the areas falling under the control of Islamist militant groups, has surged dramatically since the beginning of the conflict, Menegazzi said. In four years, since the beginning of the Syrian conflict, Lebanese police have seized over 1,000 antiquities, mainly looted from areas under the control of Islamist groups.
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