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IS Group Destroys Syria Christian Monastery

  • VOA News

This picture released late Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, by an Islamic State militant-affiliated website, shows a bulldozer, background, of the IS militants destroying the Saint Elian Monastery near the town of Qaryatain which IS captured in early August.

This picture released late Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015, by an Islamic State militant-affiliated website, shows a bulldozer, background, of the IS militants destroying the Saint Elian Monastery near the town of Qaryatain which IS captured in early August.

Syrian activists say Islamic State militants have destroyed an ancient Christian monastery in the central province of Homs.

Photographs posted on social media show bulldozers destroying parts of the St. Elian Monastery near the city of Qaryatain, which was seized by IS militants earlier this month.

Scores of Christian families fled Qaryatain as Islamic State fighters advanced on the city. The militant group kidnapped about 230 town residents, including dozens of Christians.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said IS later released about 48 of its captives and transferred another 110 to Raqqa, the militants' stronghold in Syria.

Since capturing parts of Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State has destroyed religious buildings and archaeological sites.

FILE - This picture released May 22, 2015, by the website of Islamic State militants, shows the Islamic State group's flag, top center, raised on the to top of Palmyra castle, in the Syrian town of Palmyra.

FILE - This picture released May 22, 2015, by the website of Islamic State militants, shows the Islamic State group's flag, top center, raised on the to top of Palmyra castle, in the Syrian town of Palmyra.

Earlier this year, the militants captured the Syrian city of Palmyra, noted worldwide for its ancient archeological treasures, and earlier this week staged a public execution of the city's former antiquities director. IS fighters beheaded 82-year-old Khaled Asaad, who had worked for half a century at preserving the city's 2,000-year-old ruins.

Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its seizure in May triggered fears about the fate of the city's historic treasures, since the Islamic State group has destroyed ancient artifacts in other areas it controls, reputedly because the militants consider such relics idolatrous.

Palmyra has not been subjected to widespread pillaging, but the militants placed mines throughout the UNESCO site in June.

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