Mor Santa Barbara in Keramlis, Iraq
Mor Santa Barbara in Keramlis, Iraq

Islamic State took Santa Barbara church in 2014, along with the town of Karamlis and several surrounding Christian enclaves. Given the choice of converting or leaving, the town emptied and the militants turned the church compound into a base. Saad of the Nineveh Plains Protection Units led us on a small tour of the church grounds.

April 9, 2017

مزار القديسه برباره الشهيده

An aborted tunnel attempt
An aborted tunnel attempt

In one room of the church compound, Islamic State militants had dug a vertical shaft about 30 feet deep. The metal structure at left is part of a tunneling hoist. Saad believes the militants had tried excavating a tunnel but gave up.

April 9, 2017

An saint's ossuary smashed
An saint's ossuary smashed

The ossuary bears Aramaic writing, and the design and location indicate it housed the remains of a saint.

April 9, 2017

 April 9, 2017

April 9, 2017

Under and around the church, the Islamic State had dug a warren of tunnels. This was one of around five entrances.
Under and around the church, the Islamic State had dug a warren of tunnels. This was one of around five entrances.

This entrance faced east across a wide grassy plain.

April 9, 2017

Saad enters another entrance in the hill directly behind the monastery.
Saad enters another entrance in the hill directly behind the monastery.

April 9, 2017

An entrance near the road.
An entrance near the road.

April 9, 2017

The tunnels system was wired for lighting.
The tunnels system was wired for lighting.

April 9, 2017

There were numerous pieces of furniture, metal bed frames, and this machine gun mount.
There were numerous pieces of furniture, metal bed frames, and this machine gun mount.

April 9, 2017

The tunnel was connected to the room with the smashed burial via this door.
The tunnel was connected to the room with the smashed burial via this door.

April 9, 2017

Refuse left by Islamic State included food wrappers and drink bottles.
Refuse left by Islamic State included food wrappers and drink bottles.

The NPU pulled this bottle of Hite, a South Korean beer, from one of the tunnel's refuse piles.

April 9, 2017

The hill behind the monastery.
The hill behind the monastery.

The lower slopes of this hill were littered with fragments of pottery with incised patterns.

April 9, 2017

Mor Santa Barbara in Keramlis, Iraq
An aborted tunnel attempt
An saint's ossuary smashed
 April 9, 2017
Under and around the church, the Islamic State had dug a warren of tunnels. This was one of around five entrances.
Saad enters another entrance in the hill directly behind the monastery.
An entrance near the road.
The tunnels system was wired for lighting.
There were numerous pieces of furniture, metal bed frames, and this machine gun mount.
The tunnel was connected to the room with the smashed burial via this door.
Refuse left by Islamic State included food wrappers and drink bottles.
The hill behind the monastery.
Mor Santa Barbara in Keramlis, Iraq

Islamic State took Santa Barbara church in 2014, along with the town of Karamlis and several surrounding Christian enclaves. Given the choice of converting or leaving, the town emptied and the militants turned the church compound into a base. Saad of the Nineveh Plains Protection Units led us on a small tour of the church grounds.

April 9, 2017

مزار القديسه برباره الشهيده

An aborted tunnel attempt

In one room of the church compound, Islamic State militants had dug a vertical shaft about 30 feet deep. The metal structure at left is part of a tunneling hoist. Saad believes the militants had tried excavating a tunnel but gave up.

April 9, 2017

An saint's ossuary smashed

The ossuary bears Aramaic writing, and the design and location indicate it housed the remains of a saint.

April 9, 2017

April 9, 2017

Under and around the church, the Islamic State had dug a warren of tunnels. This was one of around five entrances.

This entrance faced east across a wide grassy plain.

April 9, 2017

Saad enters another entrance in the hill directly behind the monastery.

April 9, 2017

An entrance near the road.

April 9, 2017

The tunnels system was wired for lighting.

April 9, 2017

There were numerous pieces of furniture, metal bed frames, and this machine gun mount.

April 9, 2017

The tunnel was connected to the room with the smashed burial via this door.

April 9, 2017

Refuse left by Islamic State included food wrappers and drink bottles.

The NPU pulled this bottle of Hite, a South Korean beer, from one of the tunnel's refuse piles.

April 9, 2017

The hill behind the monastery.

The lower slopes of this hill were littered with fragments of pottery with incised patterns.

April 9, 2017

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