The assault by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and the Christian militias who are bravely fighting with them, on Mosul, ISIS’ last major stronghold in Iraq, is moving rapidly. The campaign to retake the city has raged on for a month, forcing nearly 59,000 people to flee their homes, according to the United Nations.
Iraqi forces are liberating villages along the Mosul corridor and are escalating their efforts as they move further into the city. The Iraq Joint Military Operations Command has announced that it has already taken control over some neighborhoods in Mosul.
In conjunction with Ishtar TV, the only Christian network in Iraq, IDC has interviewed Christians in a number of liberated Christian towns in the Nineveh Plain, including Keramlis and Qaraqosh. Below are some of the testimonies that were shared.
Christians have been living in dire conditions as IDPs for two years, and they want to return to their homes:
“I swear we wish to be able to go back to the way it was before, before June 8th, to go back to our homes and our jobs and everything the way it was. We wish to be able to return to the way it was before June 8th. I don’t want anything more than that, I just want to go back to the way it was before June 8th. We want to live together as brothers and sisters and to come together in everyway.” (Christian man from Qaraqosh)
But Christians are facing the brutal reality that their homes have been destroyed, their churches desecrated, and their infrastructure razed to the ground:
“Everything. What isn’t burned is destroyed what isn’t destroyed is burnt, what isn’t destroyed is broken. Like (we’ve seen examples of) burning the first floor and leaving the second destroyed. They didn’t leave anything untouched.” (Christian man from Keramlis)
Christians will not feel safe returning without some protection and guarantee that they won’t be the victims of sectarian violence again. Many Christians were betrayed by longtime neighbors who turned them over to ISIS, identifying their homes to be marked as “Nazrene” and their families as targets for genocide:
“There was trust, but not anymore, we wish to have international protection and military from our local areas and not anywhere else.” (man from Qaraqosh)
Despite these unimaginable challenges Christians will face in rebuilding their lives, these communities have tremendous fortitude and courage and want to rebuild their homes and churches from the ashes:
“Rebuilding! We will clean it, we will clean Qaraqosh. Just let them tell us to ‘come back oh families,’ we will come back the next day. We just need water and electricity. I swear to God, if we come tomorrow Qaraqosh will return to how it was in 3 months.” (man from Qaraqosh)
The United States and the international community must now help these communities to rebuild. A first step that the United States should take is to support the creation of a province in the Nineveh Plain that would serve as a haven to protect these communities and provide vital assistance to them.
If you haven’t already, please TAKE ACTION! Click here to write to your Congressional Representatives and ask them to support a province and relief for the Christian genocide victims of Iraq! Make your voice heard.