“I must renew my repeated appeals regarding the painful situation of the entire Middle East, North Africa and other African countries, where Christians, together with other cultural and ethnic groups, and even members of the majority religion…have been forced to witness the destruction of places of worship, the cultural and religious heritage,” the pontiff said.
The Islamic State terrorists have been carrying out attacks on religious shrines and executed minorities in Iraq and Syria, where the extremist Sunni militant group has seized a significant amount of territory and declared a caliphate.
ISIL militants have also captured a number of historic cities, including the ancient city of Palmyra, destroying some of its cultural sites.
In August 2014, ISIL militants killed at least 500 members of Kurdish ethnic minority Yezidis in Iraq. Militants also kidnapped nearly 300 women as their slaves.