Tag: Mosul

Iraqi Assyrian Girl Freed From Islamic State Says ‘Mum, Dad’ Again

IRAQI ASSYRIAN CHRISTINA EZZO ABADA, A FORMER HOSTAGE OF ISLAMIC STATE MILITANTS FOR THREE YEARS, SITS NEXT TO HER SISTER INSIDE A CRAMPED HOME AT A REFUGEE CAMP IN ERBIL, IRAQ JUNE 10, 2017. ( REUTERS/ERIK DE CASTRO)

(AINA) Reuters– A six-year old Iraqi Christian girl, kidnapped by Islamic State when she was three, was reunited with her family on Friday, and getting used to saying “mum” and “dad” once more.

“The best day of my life is the day when Christina came back,” said her mother, Aida Nuh, on Saturday.

Dark circles around her eyes are evidence of sleepless nights since August 2014, when the militants snatched Christina from her, a few weeks after overrunning the town of Qaraqosh, 15 km (10 miles) southeast of Mosul.

“She stayed three years with the terrorists. Of course she forgot who her mother is, who her father is, that we are her family, but she will learn again.”

Islamic State has kidnapped thousands of men, women and children from Iraq’s minorities, mainly Yazidis.

Christians who did not or could not escape in time were faced with an ultimatum – pay a tax for protection, convert to Islam, or die by the sword. Some, like Christina, were kidnapped.

Christian families who remained in Qaraqosh were forcibly displaced on Aug. 22, 2014. The militants took away Christina from the minibus which had driven them to the edge of Islamic State territory, after threatening Aida, who desperately resisted.

The family’s efforts to track her though Arab friends were rewarded on Friday, when they got a call telling them Christina had been found in Hayy al-Tanak, a poor neighborhood of Mosul.

Eighth months into the U.S-backed offensive to take back Mosul, all of the city has fallen to Iraqi government forces except a pocket by the western bank of the Tigris river.

We went to a dirty place in Hayy el-Tanak (..), we took the child,” said Christina’s blind father, Khader Touma, wearing dark glasses and surrounded by the family now complete with the return of his youngest daughter.

Her two sisters and two brothers had escaped to Kurdish territory before the arrival of the militants.

“I’m with mum and dad,” said Christina, playing with a plastic toy, in a mobile home for displaced people in Ankawa, a Christian suburb of the Kurdish capital Erbil, east of Mosul.

The parents said they now hoped to emigrate, to put their ordeal behind them.

In the meantime, they face a long wait in the cramped cabin, because their home in Qaraqosh was almost completely destroyed in the fighting to dislodge the militants.

Syndicated News
By Hamuda Hassan and Isabel Coles
Writing by Maher Chmaytelli; Editing by Andrew Bolton.

Source: VOICE OF THE PERSECUTED



Most Christians Unlikely to Return to Mosul, Even after ISIS Defeat

Veronica Neffinger | Editor, ChristianHeadlines.com

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Although ISIS territory has been diminishing and their strongholds have been falling, it is doubtful Christians will return to the city of Mosul, even after this last ISIS stronghold is liberated.

CBN News reports that, even before ISIS took over control of Mosul and surrounding areas in 2014, Christians faced persecution.

There used to be 700,000 Christians in Iraq, but that number has now fallen to 250,000. Thousands of Iraqis have been internally displaced and are living as refugees in their own country. Many others have emigrated to other countries.

A new report has found that it is unlikely these displaced Christians will return to their homeland, especially since 75 percent of them reported facing threats and violence before the ISIS takeover.

CBN News spoke with a pastor in the region who works with refugees fleeing the violence.

“How could the church have a great future if the Christians are leaving?” he asked. “Of course living in the West or anywhere else would be better than living in Lebanon and the Middle East, but if we leave who’s going to be the salt and light.”

“The best thing for the church in the West would be to pray for the Christians to feel the calling to stay and make a difference,” he continued.

Source: Christian Headlines



Under the shadow of IS: Iraqi Christians tell of crucifixions, torture, sex slavery

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Islamic State jihadists hung Karlus, 29, from the ceiling of the jail he was held in, by a rope attached to his left foot. As blood poured from his foot, they beat and kicked him, rubbing salt into his wounds. ADF International

Islamic State (IS) jihadists hung Karlus, a 29-year-old cook, from the ceiling of the jail he was held in, by a rope attached to his left foot. As blood poured from his foot, they beat and kicked him, rubbing salt into his wounds. He was sexually abused in prison by three women wearing niqabs. He was told he would be shot dead; but for reasons he still does not understand, on the day his execution was due to take place, 26 September 2014, he was released.

When IS seized control of Iraqi territory in the summer of 2014, they gave Christians, as “People of the Book”, four options: leave, convert to Islam, pay a protection tax (jiyza) or be killed. The vast majority fled – an estimated 120,000 in a few short weeks that summer. But those left behind were subjected to torture, forced conversion, sexual slavery and even crucifixion, according to testimonies collected from Iraqi refugees in Jordan by the religious freedom charity ADF International.

Karlus told its researchers he had been unable to flee his home in Batnaya, a village outside Mosul, because he was looking after his disabled father. When the terrorists came to his house, they destroyed a cross and a picture of Jesus.

“They even destroyed a piece from the Quran that was given to me by a friend,” he said.

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Karlus was treated in Spain for the injuries to his leg.

Karlus was taken to a police station unconscious after retaliating when one of the jihadists hit him in the face. There began his seven-week ordeal at the hands of IS, after which he fled to Kurdistan, was treated in Spain for the injuries to his leg, and sought asylum in Jordan. Unknown to Karlus, his father had meantime managed to travel to Baghdad, but died there in August 2015.

Esam, a father-of-three from outside the town of Qaraqosh, said two of his wife’s relatives had not managed to flee Qaraqosh before IS arrived. They were abducted; the husband has not been heard of since and the wife “now lives with one of the Daesh [IS] amirs”. While reports have focused on Yezidi women being taken into sex slavery, Esam’s account suggests that Christian women and girls may have been targeted as well.

“We heard of 12 Christian girls who are with Daesh. They may be more. Our bishop told people not to tell if they lose their girls: it is a shame on the family,” he said.

Karlus and Esam are among the thousands of Iraqi Christians who have sought refuge in neighbouring Jordan. While Iraqi and Kurdish forces and militias, with US and UK air support, are embroiled in the push to liberate Mosul from IS, many Christians from the city and its surrounding villages are too traumatised by their experiences to countenance returning.

Some say they feel betrayed by neighbours who supported IS, and are no longer sure whom they can trust. Instead, many have applied for asylum in Western countries such as Sweden, Canada and Australia.

One family recovering in Sweden is that of Esam’s brother-in-law.

“My wife’s brother was crucified by Daesh,” Esam said. “He was crucified and tortured in front of his wife and children, who were forced to watch. They told him that if he loved Jesus that much, he would die like Jesus.”

Esam said the fighters tortured his relative from 6pm until 11pm; they cut his stomach open and shot him before leaving him hanging, crucified.

My wife’s brother was crucified by Daesh. He was crucified and tortured in front of his wife and children, who were forced to watch. They told him that if he loved Jesus that much, he would die like Jesus.
“A Swedish organisation helped his wife and the children; they are now in Sweden.” He added: “His wife has cancer.”

In the ongoing instability in Iraq, Christians are not necessarily safe even if they escape areas held by IS. Baghdad has been home to the country’s largest Christian community for decades, but numbers have plummeted as sectarian militia violence sporadically ripped the capital apart and targeted non-Muslims in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion.

Twice in 2014, Alaa, a father-of-two living in the city, received death threats. The first was by phone; the second time, “someone wrote on our door, ‘Your day is coming to die, you infidels’”. Alaa knew these were no empty threats.

“My wife’s cousin was killed in 2010, in an explosion at a church. Another family member was abducted in 2009,” he said. The family left Iraq in November 2014 and flew to Jordan to register as refugees.

Amid the ongoing violence and political instability in Iraq, Alaa sees little future for his family. “It is impossible to go back to Baghdad,” he said. “It is not possible to go back to Iraq. I can’t build a life there. I hope to go to Australia, but any country that will accept me, I will go there. I want to build a life and a future for my children.”

Some of the damage done by IS has already begun to be reversed. Esam said friends of his who escaped Mosul after being forcibly converted to Islam had been “baptised back to Christianity”. Other aspects will take far longer. Iraqi Christians who end up returning to Iraq know they return to a country whose sectarian fault-lines have been activated to lethal levels. Aid workers have warned that extensive reconciliation work will be vital if Iraq’s many different faith and ethnic communities are to cohere again, especially as levels of trauma among all sectors of the population are thought to be extremely high. In Jordan, Karlus reflects on his ordeal at the hands of IS members in Mosul.

He concludes: “What happened is not easy, but in the end we must forgive. This is my destiny; maybe God is planning something for me.”

Source: World Watch Monitor



Mosul displaced faced “numbing degradation” at hands of ISIL (Podcast)

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In Gogjali, on the eastern fringes of Mosul, a young girl stands by her family’s belongings after fleeing the city earlier that morning. They are waiting for the Iraqi military to take them to a camp for internally displaced persons. Photo: UNHCR/Ivor Prickett

Harrowing stories are emerging from Mosul in Iraq of life under the ISIL terrorist group, four weeks into the campaign to retake the northern city.

Some 60,000 people have been displaced so far, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

The agency’s Joel Millman has travelled close to Mosul.

Daniel Johnson asked him what Iraqi people have been saying about life under ISIL.

Duration: 3’33”



Iraqi Christians Fighting ISIS on Their Knees

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Kurdish and Iraqi forces are still fighting to break the Islamic State’s iron grip on Mosul. Meanwhile, thousands of refugees are fleeing from certain death just miles away from the ISIS stronghold and Iraq’s Christians are asking God to restore their land.

CBN News Military Correspondent Chuck Holton described the scene on the front lines in Northern Iraq.

“We’re hearing a lot of explosions and machine gunfire. There are coalition jets circling overhead,” he said positioned just miles beyond enemy lines.

While the scene is full of heavy gunfire, smoke, and ground-shaking explosions, it is impossible to ignore the thousands of wounded refugees running for their lives.

“They’ve been coming in groups of 10, 20, 30, even 100..waiving white flags and surrendering to the Peshmerga,” Holton said. “Many of them were told by ISIS that if they went to the Kurdish lines they would be beheaded by the Kurds. The refugees said they would rather die by Kurdish hands than by ISIS.”

The tired and wounded refugees do not receive the sword once they reach Kurdish territory, instead they get bowls of food and glasses of water.

“When they get to the Kurdish lines and find out they are well cared for and given food and water they just sometimes break down in tears,” Holton said. “The wounded people we saw just a little while ago included a man who’s wife and brother were killed in a U.S. airstrike. His daughter was with him and lost an arm and an eye.”

Although many have escaped, Holton says there are still many trapped in ISIS territory with targets on their backs.

“ISIS has herded thousands and thousands of people in Mosul into where the fighting is and using them as human shields. There are upwards of 700,000 people still trapped in Mosul,” he said.

Matthew Nowery leads Samaritan’s Purse in northern Iraq and he says this is the perfect time for revival.

“This is a dangerous calling. But I ask for prayer for the people themselves that are going to be displaced. That God would soften their hearts now. That they would be receptive to the message that so many of Jesus’ followers are going to be out here in the desert of Iraq to provide,” he told CBN News.

Many Christians throughout the Middle East are fighting the war against ISIS on their knees, and are praying for God to sanctify and restore the land the jihadists have defiled.

Friday, November 18th, Iraqi Christians are meeting for an event called “Christ Day.” That day will be dedicated to praying over the land defiled by ISIS militants.

Fabian Greche, leads a prayer group in the northern Iraq and believes God is far from finished with the Middle East.

“We easily get affected by darkness around us. It affects us, but if we look at Jesus and at His Word we see that God wants to pour out His Spirit. He’s coming back for a Bride and He will have one in the Middle East.”

Source: CBN