Iraq hopes to reclaim heritage lost to Islamic State group

Feb 23, 11:46 AM EST

PARIS (AP) -- Iraqi officials are calling for international help to reclaim archaeological sites and other heritage destroyed by Islamic State extremists.

A two-day gathering at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization headquarters in Paris beginning Thursday brought experts in archaeology, scholars and diplomats together with officials from Iraq.

The meeting's goal is a plan to preserve and rebuild the cultural heritage damaged and destroyed by the Islamic State group.

Iraqi Vice Minister of Culture Qais Hussein Rasheed says he hopes the liberation of Mosul's airport will soon reveal what has become of the vast areas across the river that IS has held for over two years.

Rasheed says Iraqi forces have found in areas already liberated tunnels where extremists stashed looted artifacts with plans to sell them.