ISIL levels Iraq’s oldest Christian monastery

Special to WorldTribune.com

Iraq’s oldest Christian monastery, built in 590, has been destroyed by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL).

Satellite photos confirm that St. Elijah’s monastery in Mosul was reduced to rubble in 2014 as ISIL jihadists seized the city. St Elijah’s joins a growing list of more than 100 religious and historic sites looted and destroyed by the terrorists.

Satellite images showing the site of St Elijah's Monastery in March 2011 and September 2014. /DigitalGlobe via AP
Satellite images showing the site of St Elijah’s Monastery in March 2011 and September 2014. /DigitalGlobe via AP

“Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled,” said Father Paul Thabit Habib, a Catholic priest in Irbil, Iraq. “We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.”

During the Iraq war between 2004 and 2009, U.S. troops and advisers protected the monastery.

“I would imagine that many people are feeling like: ‘What were the last 10 years for if these guys can go in and destroy everything?’ ” said U.S. army reserve Col. Mary Prophit, who was deployed at the monastery in 2004.

ISIL has also destroyed ancient monuments in the cities of Nineveh, Palmyra and Hatra.

At St. Elijah’s, the Greek letters chi and rho, representing the first two letters of Christ’s name, were carved near the entrance.

Jeffrey Whorton, a Roman Catholic army chaplain who celebrated mass at the monastery’s altar, was grief-stricken: “Why we treat each other like this is beyond me. Elijah the prophet must be weeping.”

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