The latest depredations of the Islamic State include the bombing of Assyrian Christian homes, and a monastery occupied by Assyrian nuns, plus the vandalism of a Christian cemetery in Kirkuk.
“On November 27 a cemetery in Kirkuk used by the Assyrian Church of the East and the Syriac Orthodox church was vandalized. Graves were opened, tombstone and crosses were destroyed. Another Assyrian cemetery in west Kirkuk was also vandalized. The identity of the perpetrators is unknown,” reports AINA, the Assyrian International News Agency.
“We live in difficult conditions, but we will not accept injustice and systemic radical thinking against Christians,” said Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako, one of several Christian and Muslim officials to condemn the attacks, according to AINA.
Images of the broken tombstones and defiled graves were published by AINA:
AINA recently published a list of 11 other Assyrian churches and monasteries destroyed by the Islamic State, noting that in some cases the surrounding villages were also rendered “uninhabitable.” These previous targets were all located in Syria.
Christmas Day brought one bit of good news for the Assyrian community, as the Islamic State released 25 more of the Assyrian Christian hostages they have held in Syria for most of 2015.
“The Stockholm-based Assyrian Human Rights Network said the 25 arrived in the Christian town of Tal Tamr on Friday. It said the released included 16 children and their mothers,” the Associated Press reported.
This release of hostages, facilitated by mediators who negotiated between Assyrian churches and ISIS, brings the total number of freed Assyrians to 148, out of 230 kidnapped by Islamic State militants after their villages along the Khabur River in northeastern Syria were overrun.