ICC Note: The destruction of Christians in Iraq and Syria has continued with another monastery being destroyed near Mosul, Iraq. The Mar Benham Monastery dates back to the 4th century and was the site of numerous Christian artifacts. ISIS took control of the area during their assault in the summer of 2014, expelling the monks who were living there and now they have released evidence showing its destruction.
03/19/2015 Iraq (IBT) Islamic State (Isis) militants have allegedly blown up parts of the ancient monastery of Mar Behnam near the predominantly Christian town of Qaraqosh, south-east of Mosul, according to pictures from IS media shared on twitter and a Kurdish media report.
The photos, released by IS members, show the 4th-century monastery’s tomb complex of Mar (Saint) Behnam and Mart (Saint) Sarah reduced to rubble.
Dr Nicholas al-Jeloo, an expert on Assyrian monasteries in Iraq from the University of Melbourne, visited the monastery, previously run by the Syriac Catholic Church, in January 2010 and confirmed the authenticity of the pictures to IBTimes UK.
“I didn’t want to see the pictures. This is terrible. I’m in shock,” he said.
#ISIS blew the monastery of the two martyrs “Mar Behnam & His sister Sarah Mart”,which dates back to the fourteenth century eastern #Mosul.
— Barzan Sadiq (@SeniorB) March 19, 2015
The monastery was founded in the 4th century and built on the tomb of Berhnam and his sister Sarah, who were converted to Christianity by St Matthew.
They were the children of a local Assyrian ruler named Sennacherib, a pagan, who grew angry and killed them both along with 40 soldiers who had supported them when they refused to convert back to paganism. The king later also converted to Christianity on his deathbed.
“This story intimately connects us to the ancient Assyrian heritage,” Al-Jeloo said.
The monastery is known for its carvings and features, including “very intricate inscriptions in Syriac, in Armenian and in Uygur, a Turkic language from Western China” said Al-Jeloo.