Early Church

August 21, 2015  (Source: http://www.bbc.com/news)

Islamic State (IS) militants have demolished the ancient Christian monastery of Mar Elian in the central Syrian town of al-Qaryatain.

The militants have also moved Christians taken captive in the town to their stronghold of Raqqa, according to a UK-based monitoring group.

IS captured al-Qaryatain from government forces some two weeks ago.

Photos showed the group bulldozing parts of the monastery, which was founded more than 1,500 years ago.

IS also transferred more than 100 captives to Raqqa, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

But the group says the fate of 230 people kidnapped after al-Qaryatain’s capture remains unclear, including Jacques Mourad, a prominent local priest who had been working at the Mar Elian monastery.

IS regards Christians as infidels. The threat of violence and persecution from the militants has forced many Christian communities from their homes in Syria and northern Iraq.

Al-Qaryatain was captured in the militants’ first major offensive since May, when they seized the historic town of Palmyra, famed for its Roman-style ruins.

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