ISIS ransacks Christian churches, homes, cemeteries

Sunday, January 3, 2016
Michael F. Haverluck (

Continuing its onslaught against Christians in the Middle East, ISIS has laid waste to numerous Assyrian churches and homes in Iraq while vandalizing Christian monasteries and cemeteries throughout the region.

A Closer LookLast week, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria turned 10 Assyrian homes into ruins while injuring several in a bomb blast that also damaged a monastery of Assyrian nuns in northern Iraq, the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) reports. This was part of a new barrage of concerted attacks recently waged on Christians in the region by ISIS.

The terrorist group recently vowed to renew its attacks by threatening to bomb a number of other nearby villages.

ISIS also ransacked two cemeteries in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk the day after Thanksgiving, digging up and opening graves on the sites while destroying crosses and tombstones. Even though the destruction of the grave sites used by the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Assyrian Church of the East was credited to ISIS terrorists, AINA reports that local authorities would not identify the individuals who vandalized the cemeteries.

The defiled graves and demolished tombstones were captured by AINA in published photos displaying graves that were smashed open by ISIS members, along with tombstones that were uprooted and knocked from their original placements.

More Christian targets

In addition to the destruction of cemeteries, ISIS recently attacked 11 other Assyrian churches and monasteries in the area, according to AINA.

ISIS’s continued attacks have come after it displaced nearly 200,000 Assyrians who fled their homes to avoid the ransacking Islamic terrorists once they occupied the nearby Nineveh Plains.

Both Christian and Muslim officials in Iraq condemned ISIS’s acts of destruction on the cemeteries.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon Louis Raphael Sako said the raids would not be tolerated.

"We live in difficult conditions, but we will not accept injustice and systemic radical thinking against Christians," proclaimed Sako, who was voted the Head of the Chaldean Catholic Church in February 2013.

News of joy for Christmas

Despite the ongoing attacks on Christians, the Assyrian community had two reasons to celebrate on Christmas day, when 25 Assyrian Christians who were taken as hostages earlier in the year were freed by ISIS terrorists, according to Breitbart.

The 25 freed captives consisted of nine women and their 16 children, says a report issued by the Assyrian Human Rights Network. ISIS released them on Christmas in the Christian town of Tal Tamr in northeastern Syria, according to a report by the Associated Press.

The 25 Assyrians released on Christmas day puts the total number of Assyrians released by ISIS at 148. Earlier in 2015, the jihadists operating out of Iraq and Syria kidnapped and took hostage 230 people from villages around the Khabur River in eastern Syria.

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