The BBC talks to antiquities smugglers with ties to ISIS:
“There’s three friends in Aleppo we deal with, these people move from Aleppo all the way to the border here and pay a taxi driver to sneak it in.” He specialised in smaller items which would be easier to move on – but he says even that has become too risky. “We tried our best to get the items which had most value, earrings, rings, small statues, stone heads,” he says.
He made a good profit but bigger players with better connections “sold pieces worth $500,000, some for $1m”, he says. When I ask who’s making the money and controlling the trade in Syria his gentle voice takes on a flinty tone: “IS are the main people doing it. They are the ones in control of this business, they stole from the museums especially in Aleppo,” he says. “I know for a fact these militants had connections overseas and they talked ahead of time and they shipped overseas using their connections abroad.” Mohammed is still involved in cross-border trade, but no longer in antiquities. “Anyone caught with it gets severe punishment,” he says. “They accuse you of being IS.”