The security branches of the Assad regime have launched an excavation effort in search of gold that had been buried by ISIS in the Al-Hajar Al-Aswad neighborhood south of Damascus when it was under the Caliphate’s control, the Zaytun news agency reported Tuesday night (نظام الأسد يبحث عن ذهب “داعش” جنوب دمشق).
Zaytun cited media sources who said Syria’s Military Security Division carried out a search and excavation operation for weapons, ammunition, and gold which had been buried by ISIS. According to those sources, three groups of military security, using a bulldozer and a heavy digging machine, entered Al-Hajar al-Aswad, 2 miles south of the center of Damascus, and closed all roads and outlets leading to it, to begin excavations in the buildings near the Zubair Mosque.
The process of excavation and bulldozing continued for 6 hours but did not yield results, and the engineering machinery left the neighborhood. But military security troops continued to search inside the demolished buildings and under the rubble.
The sources pointed out that the search operation came after the Assad regime had obtained information from a person who had ties to ISIS before they left the area. The man was then arrested after signing an affidavit.
Assad’s forces took control of the Al-Hajar Al-Aswad neighborhood in May 2018 after battles with ISIS that ended with the signing of a secret agreement stipulating the expulsion of its fighters to the Badia region under Russian protection.
Western media reported back in 2015 that ISIS was obsessed with gold currency, and that when ISIS took over Iraq’s second-largest city, it stole roughly $450 million from Mosul’s central bank, including vast quantities of gold bullion, according to the International Business Times and military experts. ISIS believed the global economy’s current system of paper money is bound to collapse and the only tangible form of wealth is precious metals.
Gold and currency expert Axel Merk of Merk Investments in San Francisco told CNN in 2014: “They realize the international banking system is not very open to them. If they use paper currency, they’ll have rampant inflation.” He believed eventually ISIS would run out of gold to finance its activities and would be forced to lower the metal contents in the coins, which would render them useless. “They’re going to have to cheat and print money like every central bank does,” Merk said.
We’ll never know, of course, since ISIS has been forced to withdraw from the Damascus area, with or without their gold.