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Ninevah monastery hopes for liberation

Past regular visitors to St. George's Monastery, north of Mosul, have been saddened and horrified by the acts of destruction by Islamic State members at the site.
Iraqis inspect the destruction caused by an explosion at the entrance of a monastery in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, 06 January 2008. Bombs exploded today outside two churches and a monastery in Mosul, wounding four people and slightly damaging the buildings, police said. AFP PHOTO/MUJAHED MOHAMMED (Photo credit should read MUJAHED MOHAMMED/AFP/Getty Images)
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BAGHDAD — Places traditionally visited by Iraqi Christians for the spring holidays are remarkably deserted this year, including the Chaldean Church's Monastery of Markourkas, or St. George, which sits in the Hay al-Arabi region on a hill overlooking the northern part of the city of Mosul. The monastery, the most prominent in Ninevah, recently became the subject of numerous reports after the Islamic State (IS) attacked it March 16, shattering crosses, statues, bells and sculptures, destroying paintings and removing tombstones.

According to historical sources, in particular the book "Markourkas" by Father Joseph Habbi, it once served as a church for a village called Bouira. The date of the church's founding is unknown, although some reports point to the mid-10th century. The monastery rose in importance as Mosul came to represent a stronghold of Iraqi Christians until IS forced them to leave in July 2014.

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