Christian Town Freed from 'Lions of the Caliphate' in Syria
Syrian troops have recaptured the town of Qaryatain from ISIS, liberating an area where Islamic jihadists had repeatedly abducted and terrorized Christian residents.
ISIS pillaged the once-thriving Christian community and demolished its treasured 5th century St. Elian Monastery.
The town was home to thousands of Christians, Muslims, and refugees from other cities.
Jihadists abducted dozens of Christians from the city, while others were forced to pay the Islamic Jizya, a heavy tax levied on non-Muslims.
Last August, the fighters posted photos on social media showing them bulldozing the monastery.
They also trashed an ancient church next to the Assyrian Christian monastery and desecrated a nearby cemetery, breaking the crosses and smashing name plates.
The church's doors and windows were blown out and its interior appeared to have been used as a workshop for manufacturing bombs and other paraphernalia used by the terrorists.
Scrawled in blue paint on the church's exterior stone wall was a verse from a 19th century Egyptian poet known as the Poet of Islam: "We faced you in battle like hungry lions who find the flesh of the enemy to be the most delicious." It was signed: "The Lions of the Caliphate."