Images of ISIS militants destroying Christian relics and replacing crosses on the tops of Iraqi churches with black flags surfaced this week in the terror organization's latest act of vandalism.
The Middle East Media Research Institute released the images Monday, showing people believed to be ISIS supporters vandalizing religious icons in Christian churches, overturning statues and crosses, and erecting ISIS banners, the Daily Mail reported
. Though most ISIS militants wear masks or coverings in photos, the men in the new images are dressed in civilian clothing.
ISIS leaders have charged that the relics promote idolatry, which in turn violates fundamentalist Islamic law.
"They don't care what it's called; they are just following their ideology and that means getting rid of churches and minorities," Steven Stalinsky, director of media research institute, told the Daily Mail. "It is the Islamic State, and there's no room for anyone else. This has been going on for some time, a systematic campaign to rid the region of any vestiges of Christianity."
The latest attack on churches in Nineveh, Iraq, is a continuation of assaults ISIS and its supporters have carried out against Christians in the Middle East, according to the Jerusalem Post.
The Islamic State decapitated 21 Egyptian Christians on the Libya shores in February and also kidnapped more than 220 Assyrian Christians.
The Vatican's diplomat at the United Nations, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, told the Daily Mail this week that the jihadists were committing "genocide," with Christians being driven from their homes because of the continued violence.
"This has been going on for some time, a systematic campaign to rid the region of any vestiges of Christianity," Stanlinsky said, agreeing with Tomasi's charge.
The Daily Beast reported last year that Iraqis feared ISIS
would level this type of destruction on religious and historical places like museums when they started to control large swaths of land in the country.
"We as Iraqis are incapable of controlling the situation by ourselves," Abbas Qureishi, director of the Iraqi Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities recovery program, told the news website last July. "The Iraqi army will be obliged to conduct operations next to these archeological sites."
"[The jihadists] will destroy them and say the Iraqi army bombed these sites," he continued. "So we are asking Americans and Europeans — especially Americans — to understand the gravity of the situation."
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