The UK will return 5,000 ancient artefacts to Iraq. The announcement was made during the visit of Iraq's Prime Minister to London this week. The return is the largest ever by the UK. Many of the items were stolen and smuggled from Iraq in the past century. A lot of this happened after the last Iraqi war. There is a profitable trade in stolen artefacts. Iraq's ambassador in London said: "We extend our gratitude [to the UK] for their efforts and cooperation."
Many of the artefacts were found by British archaeologists a century ago. One valuable item is a rare Sumerian plaque from 2400BC. It was smuggled out of Iraq and auctioned in 2019. It was seized by police in London. The British Museum said it would continue to "fight against the illicit trade in antiquities". It added: "It is vital that we preserve and protect the world's cultural heritage for future generations to appreciate and enjoy."