ISIS, or Islamic State, has demolished an Assyrian Christian church in the Iraqi town of Karmlis, which is located not far from their Mosul stronghold. According to the ARA news agency, the radical Islamist militant group utilized both exterior and interior charges to level the holy site.       

Numerous churches destroyed

Destruction of the Assyrian church is said to be yet another in a series of churches and other archaeological heritage sites to be found within the Nineveh Governorate. According to human rights activist Ghazi Shamoun, the ISIS terrorists methodically detonated numerous charges in and around the church late on Sunday, October 9th.

 He pointed out that the church was entirely destroyed and beyond salvaging.

ISIS intends to wipe out artifacts they see as sacrilegious

As ISIS slowly looses their foothold on their Iraq and Syrian-based caliphate, they are nonetheless taking every measure possible to destroy and/or eradicate religious and cultural artifacts they consider to be sacrilegious to their brand of Islam. Many of these sites are thousands of years old, including the 2,000 year old Gate of God in Iraq, the ancient ruins of Palmyra, and Syria’s Assyrian-era Tal Ajaja settlement which was considered a national treasure. ISIS members often use explosives and heavy duty construction equipment to destroy the artifacts but also use crude tools like sledgehammers and pick-axes. 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

At this point, all six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the civil war-ravaged Syria are said to be severely damaged or destroyed altogether.

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While in Iraq, the destruction of its artifacts began in earnest as soon as Mosul fell to the terrorist group. The current count of historical sites of worship damaged and looted, as well as archaeological relics destroyed, is 28 or more. While ISIS’s motivation for the destruction is at base ideological, they are also known to sell the looted artifacts on the black market in order to further finance their killing machine.

Eliminate historical identity

ARA reports that Karmlis along with its surrounding Christian villages have been abandoned by fleeing civilians who have purportedly fled to the Kurdish held portions of Iraq. ISIS intends to eliminate the historical and religious identity of the entire Nineveh Governorate, says Shamoun. All in all, more than 1,000 archaeological sites in both Syria and Iraq have been laid to waste since the rise of the ISIS caliphate following the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq in December of 2011. In order to prevent further damage to still intact historical and religious relics, the United Nations has unveiled a plan for placing blue-helmeted peacekeepers on site to protect them. The UN peacekeeping mission intends to protect important sites from terrorist attacks, war, and natural disasters.