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Alcoves once used as personal quarters are a feature of St. Elijah's Monastery at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq. Soldiers recently toured the site, which is near a Russian tank graveyard (rear).
Alcoves once used as personal quarters are a feature of St. Elijah's Monastery at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq. Soldiers recently toured the site, which is near a Russian tank graveyard (rear). (Brian Sipp / Courtesy of U.S. Army)
Alcoves once used as personal quarters are a feature of St. Elijah's Monastery at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq. Soldiers recently toured the site, which is near a Russian tank graveyard (rear).
Alcoves once used as personal quarters are a feature of St. Elijah's Monastery at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq. Soldiers recently toured the site, which is near a Russian tank graveyard (rear). (Brian Sipp / Courtesy of U.S. Army)
Chaplain (Capt.) Jeremiah Catlin, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, points out rough-hewn marble window panes at St. Elijah's Monastery. Catlin is a caretaker of the site and offers tours to soldiers.
Chaplain (Capt.) Jeremiah Catlin, Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, points out rough-hewn marble window panes at St. Elijah's Monastery. Catlin is a caretaker of the site and offers tours to soldiers. (Brian Sipp / Courtesy of U.S. Army)
Soldiers including Sgt. Jessica Muller (foreground), a Special Troops Battalion combat medic, recently toured Elijah's Monastery on Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq.
Soldiers including Sgt. Jessica Muller (foreground), a Special Troops Battalion combat medic, recently toured Elijah's Monastery on Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq. (Brian Sipp / Courtesy of U.S. Army)

Soldiers escaped the pressures of war recently by indulging in some history. They visited the ruins of a monastery at Forward Operating Base Marez in Mosul, Iraq, that resembles a castle.

The Dair Mar Elia Monastery, named after Mar Elia, a monk who studied in Turkey, was a successful center of Christianity until 1743, when Tahmaz Nadir Shah tried to destroy it and killed all of the inhabitants. Remnants of 1,500-year-old pottery are scattered in several rooms on the ground level of the site, which has come to be known as St. Elijah’s Monastery. The monastery shows damage from combat in the fall of 2003 when an Iraqi armor unit used it as a command post against coalition forces.

Touring the monastery helps soldiers get a feel for the culture and rich history of Iraq, according to Chaplain (Capt.) Jeremiah Catlin, who accompanied soldiers with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division on a recent visit to the site.

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