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ISIS destroy Iraq’s oldest monastery

St. Elijah's Monastery, pictured in 2008 (AP)

The oldest monastery in Iraq has been destroyed by ISIS, according to reports.

St Elijah’s Monastery of Mosul had stood for 1,400 years and had recently been used as a place of worship by US troops. However, satellite photos obtained by Associated Press (AP) show that the monastery has been razed.

Fr Paul Thabit Habib, 39, a priest exiled in Irbil, Iraq, said: “I can’t describe my sadness. Our Christian history in Mosul is being barbarically leveled. We see it as an attempt to expel us from Iraq, eliminating and finishing our existence in this land.”

After reviewing the satellite images, imagery expert Stephen Wood, CEO of Allsource Analysis, told AP that the destruction of the monastery took place between August 27 and September 28, 2014.

Before it was destroyed the monastery had 26 rooms including a sanctuary and chapel. “Bulldozers, heavy equipment, sledgehammers, possibly explosives turned those stone walls into this field of gray-white dust. They destroyed it completely,” Wood said.

St Elijah’s is one of more than 100 religious and historic sites, including mosques, tombs, shrines and churches, destroyed by ISIS in Syria and Iraq.