The scale of random illegal excavations increased recently in many areas in the province of Hama. Some civilians formed their own groups to dig for artifacts. The excavation groups started in parts particularly in the west and north of Hama because they are well-known for many historical sites such as the citadel of Apamea /Qalaat al-Madiq, Tell Qaraqur, among others. The findings looted are smuggled out of Syria and then sold. An STJ's field researcher said the workers dig the archaeological cemeteries around the citadel of Apamea and its exterior walls.