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US Returns Scores of Smuggled Artifacts to Iraq Government

Some of the artifacts from more than 60 Iraqi cultural treasures illegally smuggled into the United States that were returned to the Republic of Iraq, are displayed on a table, the Department of Homeland Security said in Washington, March 16, 2015, as pictured in this undated handout photo provided by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it has returned more than 60 Iraqi cultural artifacts to that country's government following an investigation into antiquities smuggled into the U.S.

In a statement Monday, the department said the items were found during investigations in several U.S. cities, including New York, Baltimore, and Austin. The investigation led to the identification of an international network dealing in illicit cultural artifacts, the statement said.

It said one of the most significant items returned is an ancient limestone statue depicting the head of Assyrian King Sargon II. Customs agents in New York seized the statue after it was shipped by an antiques dealer based in Dubai.

Other objects returned Monday include gold-plated items that were looted from the private palace and airport of executed former president Saddam Hussein. Also returned were bronze and glass antiquities and clay reliefs.

The Department of Homeland Security said it was first alerted to an early Sumerian bronze ax from a listing on the Internet site Craigslist. It said the seller had no importation documentation.

The department says its Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit has returned more than 1,200 items to Iraq since 2008.

Some information for this report from Reuters.

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