ERBIL – Islamic State (ISIS) extremists demolished an Assyrian Church in Iraq’s northwestern Nineveh Governorate on Sunday. Barbara Fouq Attal Church was in the town of Karmlis, near Mosul city.
“[ISIS] jihadists detonated a number of explosive devices inside the church on Sunday afternoon,” human rights activist Ghazi Shamoun said. “The church was completely destroyed.”
The Assyrian town of Karmlis and adjacent Christian villages have been completely depopulated since ISIS invaded Nineveh Governorate in June 2014. Thousands of Christian families fled their hometowns as ISIS advanced, taking shelter in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Shamoun told ARA News that, ISIS “terrorists have destroyed dozens of Assyrian churches and archeological sites in Nineveh in a bid to eliminate the historical identity of the area.”
History Under Attack
Zuheir Mousilly, a Nineveh-based media activist, told ARA News that after ISIS seized control of Mosul city in 2014, jihadists destroyed many historic sites and monuments. Notably, the Assyrian city of Nimrud, the Winged Bulls, and the Mosul National Museum were demolished.
According to locals, ISIS militants often remove pieces of sculpture in advance of their iconoclasm. These treasures are then smuggled abroad and resold.
Last April, ISIS demolished the Gate of God. This fortified arch dates back to the 7th century BC and may have been constructed by the Assyrian king Sennacherib.
An Iraqi antiquities expert, Yasser Hatami, condemned the destruction of the historic gate, blaming Iraqi authorities for their inability to protect archeological sites.
Last year, ISIS extremists bombed Shingal District’s ancient Yezidi minaret. The Shingal District is west of Mosul city, in northern Iraq.
In April 2015, ISIS terrorists blew up the Church of the Virgin Mary in the Assyrian village of Tel Nasri. Tel Nasri is west of Hasakah city in northeastern Syria.
In June 2014, ISIS also blew up two monuments in the ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria.
“ISIS views those sites as sacrilegious and a return to paganism,” Abdul Maamoun Abdulkarim, Syria’s Director-General of Antiquities and Museums, told ARA News in an earlier interview.
More than 1000 archaeological sites in Syria and Iraq have been attacked by ISIS and other Islamist groups, according to reports.