Mar Elian (Dar Alyan) monastery in Homs province was destroyed by IS militants. File photo
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Damascus, Syria – Militant fighters of the Islamic State radical group (IS/ISIS) destroyed the Assyrian monastery of Mar Elian in al-Qaryatain town in the Syrian province of Homs, local sources said on Friday.
“Terrorists of Daesh (IS) destroyed the monastery completely. They want to eliminate the Assyrian culture and history from the town,” an Assyrian activist told ARA News on the condition of anonymity.
The group has also abducted dozens of Christian residents of al-Qaryatain, including women and children.
More than 100 Christians have been transferred by the radical group from al-Qaryatain town to Raqqa city –the IS’ major stronghold in Syria.
More than 2000 Christians used to reside al-Qaryatain before the outbreak of the anti-Assad uprising mid-March 2011. Most of them left the town after violence hit Homs province.
Last May, IS gunmen abducted Father Jack Murad, head of Mar Elian monastery in al-Qaryatain town after seizing the nearby ancient city of Palmyra in central Syria.
The Assyrian Network for Human Rights appealed to the international community to intervene and free Christian civilians held by the extremist group.
IS militants took over al-Qaryatain town after fierce clashes with forces loyal to the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad two weeks ago. Some 37 regime soldiers were killed, while IS lost 23 militants during the battle for al-Qaryatain.
The town is of a strategic importance because of its location along a road linking the ancient city of Palmyra –which was seized by IS in May– with Qalamoun region in Damascus province.
Reporting by: Dilshad Muhammad
Source: ARA News