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It came at the end of a long conversation in the cool heat of early March in the Turkish border town of Antakya. Foreign journalists, fearing kidnap at the hands of Islamic extremists, have largely given up crossing the border into rebel-held northern Syria, and I wondered how my coffee companion, a portly Syrian who’d been working for some of those journalists, was making ends meet. Not to worry, replied Amer. “I have a new job in the antiques business. Same dangers as before. And top secret. Don’t tell anyone.”
Since Syria’s descent into civil war, Antakya and other cities along Turkey’s long, porous border with the country have become conduits for the illegal trafficking of Syrian antiquities. Having once made a living smuggling journalists into Syria, Amer was now smuggling stolen antiquities in the other direction.
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