“I understand that ISIS fighters stole stuff, robbed houses, but why would they burn everything? Why did they burn and destroyed the entire town? Because they hate us! They hate us because we are Christians!” This is the alarm General Benham Abasht told The European Post inside his devastated house in Qaraqosh in the Nineveh Plain, Iraq.
The city of Qaraqosh has become a ghost city at all levels: It’s impossible to live there. There is no electricity nor water. What used to be the biggest Christian city in Iraq with more than 60,000 residents is now empty. The majority of the people left the city before ISIS arrived, going to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan.
Only a handful of Christian soldiers of the NPU (Nineveh Protection Unit), who are controlling the area freed from ISIS at the end of October, are present to control the territory.
The church of the Immaculate Conception is totally destroyed and burnt. ISIS used the garden of the church to train their fighters to shoot. Their targets? Christian statues representing Jesus Christ and Holy Mary.
The bells of the old church resonate again for us after two years of silence during Daesh’s occupation. This is the most emotional moment.
Christians have been asking for International protection and for the autonomy of the Nineveh Plain to repopulate the region with Christians. The worst scenario for them would be the de-Christianisation of the area. Exactly what ISIS wanted.