Mosul, Iraq, Jan 22, 2016 / 00:02 am
St. Elijah's Monastery in Mosul dated back to the sixth century, making it the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq. Muslims and Christians alike have made pilgrimages to the Chaldean Catholic monastery, invoking both poets and historians to write about its religious impact within the Middle East.
The Associated Press obtained satellite images this month showing that St. Elijah's, also known as Dair Mar Elia, was demolished by militants of the Islamic State, a militant Sunni Islamist organization, between Aug. 27 and Sept. 28, 2014. The AP published the images Jan. 20.
Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, was overrun by the Islamic State in June 2014. In August, it further extended its reach in the regions surrounding the city. The militants have displaced hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis, and Shia Muslims from their homes while slaughtering or enslaving thousands of others.
"We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land," Fr. Paul Thabit Habib, a Catholic priest from Mosul who now lives in Erbil, told The Associated Press. He added that the monastery was "a very important place for the history of the Church in Iraq."