Great Britain has promised to return more than 5,000 ancient artefacts to Iraq over next few months. announcement was made by British government during the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister to London earlier this week. The repatriation marks largest ever return of antiquities by UK. Many of the items set to return to Iraq were stolen and smuggled out of Iraq over past century, particularly after the Iraqi wars at the beginning of century. There is lucrative trade in stolen artefacts. Iraq's ambassador to the UK was appreciative of UK's help. He said: "We extend our gratitude to the British Museum staff for their efforts and cooperation with us."
Many of artefacts that will soon be on their way back to Iraq were unearthed by British archaeologists century ago. One valuable item is rare Sumerian plaque that dates back to around 2400BC. It was illegally smuggled out of Iraq and put up for auction in 2019. It was discovered and seized by police in London. plaque will be put on public display at museum before its repatriation. British Museum said it would continue, "to work with our Iraqi colleagues to research these important collections, and in fight against illicit trade in antiquities". It added: "It is vital that we preserve and protect world's cultural heritage for future generations to appreciate and enjoy."