Syria monastery ravaged by IS was symbol of coexistence

Graffiti reading in Arabic, "we came to you with hungry lions, to your flesh", at the devastated monastery of Syriac Catholic Saint Elian, in the town of al-Qaryatain, one of the last Islamic State (IS) group strongholds in central SyriaThe Syrian army on Sunday drove out the jihadists, but the damage they have caused in a place that was once a symbol of religious tolerance seems almost irreparable. IS razed the fifth-century church in August 2015 using explosives and bulldozers, as they have done with shrines and other religious buildings elsewhere, "under the pretext that people worshipped a deity other than God", according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Under the broken stone cover of a sarcophagus lay the skull and bones of Mar or Saint Elian -- a Christian from Homs province who was slain by the Romans for refusing to renounce his faith.


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