Fox News' Holly McKay has reported that
barbaric IS (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh) militants had used the
Syrian Orthodox Church of St. Ephraim in eastern Mosul to not only store
documents from the different departments within the extremist
organization but to also hold and abuse innocent Yazidi women and
McKay, who visited what was once one of the largest
churches in Mosul, explained that even though the church had been
liberated months ago by Iraqi-led coalition forces in their effort to
retake Iraq's second-largest city, there still remains the evidence of
the Yazidi girls' captivity inside the house of worship.
wrote that she found pieces of pink and yellow underwear and flower
headbands that once belonged to Yazidi girls lying on the floor of the
As it has been widely reported that IS militants
took thousands of religious minority girls hostage and sold and traded
them to each other as sex slaves, Iraqi officials told McKay that as
many as 200 different Yazidi girls and children were housed in the
Church of St. Ephraim at some point.
"We found documents where
they questioned them about their age, whether married or single, virgin
or not, period or not," Iraqi Forces 1st Lt. Waseem Nenwaya told Fox
Although McKay reports the the
Church of St. Ephraim was liberated months ago, that was not before IS
turned the church into a "mosque of the mujahideen." Mujahideen is the
arabic word that is the plural version of jihadi.
conquered Mosul and areas in the Nineveh Plains in the summer of 2014
and maintained control of Mosul until the Iraqi-led coalition began its
liberation efforts of Mosul last October. After pushing IS forces out of
eastern Mosul, the U.S.-backed coalition began its efforts to push the
terror group out of western Mosul in February.
Earlier this week, Iraqi forces announced that
they pushed IS out of the district just north of Mosul's historic
center. Now, the territory IS holds in Mosul is down to just two
districts along the western banks of the Tigris river, Reuters reports.
the one-year anniversary of the group's capture of Mosul in June 2015,
IS posted notices in the streets of Mosul announcing that it was turning
the church in the "mosque of the mujahideen." According to Newsweek, it
was meant to be a place where jihadis and IS supporters could practice
IS' version of Sunni Islam.
The militants ripped the cross off of
the dome of the church and removed other religious symbols and
furniture. The militants replaced the cross with the black and white IS
scary development, until now they have bombed or, in other ways,
destroyed churches but when they change [the church to a mosque], it
feels more definite," Nuri Kino, founder and president of A Demand For
Action, told Newsweek at
the time. "A year ago they said 'Convert, pay or die' then it turned
out to be a lie, that even if you pay you will not be able to stay. ...
If they changed a church to a mosque it is further proof of their
cleansing, something that many call a genocide. They destroy our
artefacts, our churches and try to erase us in any way they can."
explained in his interview with Fox News that the church was also used
by the militants as a "mortar attack point." He added that the militants
"caved the church walls."
Even though the church walls are caved
in and there is rubble and pro-IS grafiti all over the inside of the
church, McKay reports that local residents are determined to restore the
church and return it to the Iraqi Christian community. Nenwaya
explained that Iraq's Christian Affairs Department, with the help of
foreign NGOs, will assist with repairs to the church.
A report released in May by PLOS Medicine,
a peer-reviewed journal published by the nonprofit publisher Public
Library of Science, estimates that nearly 10,000 Yazidis were killed and
about 6,800 were enslaved when IS took over their homes in the Sinjar
region in August 2014.
While it has
been reported that IS enslaved Yazidi women and girls and brainwashed
young Yazidi boys into becoming jihadis or suicide bombers, the
militants also displayed no mercy while carrying out some of the most
egregious abuses of human rights on the Yazidi people.
reports that Yazidi leaders showed photographs of jihadis burning
babies to death on a slab of sheet metal. Other photos showed dead
bodies side by side as they were engulfed in flames.
Last week, it was reported that 19 Yazidi girls were burned alive inside of an iron cage by IS simply because they refused to have sex with the jihadis.
19 girls were burned to death, while hundreds of people were watching,"
one witness told ARA News. "Nobody could do anything to save them from
the brutal punishment."