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World

Before the Destruction: Iraq's Oldest Christian Monastery

Satellite photos confirm that the oldest Christian monastery in Iraq has been reduced to rubble by ISIS.

 / Updated 7 PHOTOS
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U.S. Army soldiers tour St. Elijah's Monastery on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, in 2008.  

The monastery stood as a place of worship for 1,400 years, including most recently for U.S. troops.

 

Maya Alleruzzo / AP file
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This combination of two satellite images provided by DigitalGlobe, taken on March 31, 2011, top, and Sept. 28, 2014, shows the site of the 1,400-year-old Christian monastery known as St. Elijah’s, or Dair Mar Elia, on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq.  The photo confirm what church leaders and Middle East preservationists had feared: The monastery has been reduced to a field of rubble, yet another victim of the Islamic State's relentless destruction.

A satellite image at top shows St. Elijah’s Monastery in 2011. Below it is a photo from Sept. 28, 2014, showing the site after the monastery was razed. Imagery analyst Stephen Wood, CEO of Allsource Analysis, pinpointed the destruction between August and September 2014.

DigitalGlobe via AP
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Soldiers celebrate a Catholic Easter Mass at St. Elijah's Monastery on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq in 2010. 

The 27,000-square-foot stone and mortar building was missing most of its roof, but it had 26 distinctive rooms including a sanctuary and chapel.

Staff Sgt. Russell Lee Klika / U.S. Army via AP
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Visitors stand at the entrance to the ruins of St. Elijah’s Monastery in 2009. 

"Bulldozers, heavy equipment, sledgehammers, possibly explosives turned those stone walls into this field of gray-white dust. They destroyed it completely," Stephen Wood said from his Colorado offices.

Carmichael Yepez / U.S. Army via AP
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U.S. soldiers look out towards the city of Mosul, from the top of the stairwell at the monastery. 

Sgt. Mitch Armbruster / U.S. Army via AP
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Suzanne Bott leads a tour at St. Elijah's monastery in 2009. Bott spent more than two years surveying and restoring the site as a U.S. State Department cultural adviser in Iraq.

Mary Prophit / U.S. Army via AP
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Cracks line the walls of the ancient sanctuary in 2008. 

Maya Alleruzzo / AP
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