An Assyrian church in Iraq’s north-eastern Nineveh Plains was on Sunday (9 October) the latest to be destroyed by “the Islamic State” (IS), as the jihadist group continues to face losses on the ground.
St. Barbara Fouq Attal (on-the-Hill) was blown up when IS fighters “detonated a number of explosive devices inside it on Sunday afternoon,” ARA News said, adding that the church, in the town of Karamles, near Mosul, was completely destroyed. (ARA in Kurdish is the acronym for Independent Press Agency.)
St. Barbara joins a list of churches destroyed by IS since it swept across Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh Plains in the summer of 2014, displacing thousands of Christians and other indigenous minorities.
The list includes Mosul’s Virgin Mary Church (Jul. 2014), Mar Elia Monastery (Aug. 2014), Mar Kourkas Church (March 2015), the Clock Church (April 2016), and the Armenian Genocide Memorial Church in Deir ez-Zor in neighbouring Syria (Sep. 2014).
“The terrorist group has destroyed dozens of Assyrian churches and archaeological sites in Nineveh in a bid to eliminate the historical identity of the area,” ARA News quoted a human rights activist as saying.
The latest destruction comes as IS is reported to have lost more than a quarter of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria since January 2015.
According to Open Doors’ 2016 World Watch List, Iraq ranks second, while Syria ranks fifth, among 50 countries where Christians face the most pressure.