Video footage released by a news outlet in Dubai shows militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, an umbrella organization of Iraqi insurgent groups operating in Syria, raising the al Qaeda flag above the Melkite Greek Catholic Church of the Lady of the Annunciation in the northern Syrian city of al-Raqqa.
Al-Aan TV reported that militants attempted to dismount the church’s bell while chanting “Allahu Akbar.” They removed the church’s cross and hoisted the al Qaeda flag on top.
The militants also ransacked the church. In one part of the footage, a militant on the roof of the building threw a crucifix down to the children watching below. A Saudi militant then explains to the children that the cross is worshiped by “Nazarenes,” a sect of Christians, and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
According to the report, the militant then steps on the cross.
The organization has begun setting up private schools in the rebel-held areas to spread its indoctrination.