Qaraqosh, la chiesa dell’mmacolata Concezione
A beheaded statue of Mary, a painting of Christ thrown to the ground and crushed, sacred images used for target shooting as well as desecrated and ravaged cemeteries, graves and tombstones; shrines, monasteries, churches, homes and shops set ablaze. The terrorists of the Islamic State (Isis) left a collection of atrocities and horrors in their wake after having been driven out of the Nineveh Plains, the beating heart of Iraqi Christianity, represented by the villages of Bartella, Batnaya, Qaramles, Qaraqosh and Telleskoff.
A delegation of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) – led by ACN director for Italy, Alessandro Monteduro, accompanied by the bishop of Carpi Monsignor Francesco Cavina, in his third solidarity visit to Kurdistan – visited the site a few days ago. After having occupied the neighbouring city of Mosul in June 2014, the militiamen of Caliph al Baghdadi invaded the villages on August 6, in the middle of the night. It was a pitch black night, the same colour of their banner. Two years and a half of occupation in this area of northern Iraq marked by persecutions against Christians: as many as 130 thousands have fled from Erbil, capital of Kurdistan, to save their own lives and their faith. In fact, their only other options were to pay the protection tax or convert to Islam. On October 17 2016 Baghad’s forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters began the offensive to liberate the villages and head towards Mosul, the Iraqi capital of the Caliphate, where the battle to defeat the last Isis resistance militia is ongoing.
Today all the villages are liberated, but the communities that used to live there are yet to return. An ACN research conducted a month ago among 1500 evacuated families in Mosul shows that ISIS pillaged the homes of 56.96% of them, destroyed those belonging to 22.25%, while the homes of 19.42% were set ablaze; 1.38% claimed they don’t know what has happened to them.” Moreover, said Monsignor Bashar Matti Warda, Chaldean archbishop of Erbil, “90% of the places of worship in the Nineveh Plains have been destroyed and plundered by the Islamic State.”
Iraqi Calvary. Today the Nineveh Plains are hard to reach. There are a series of checkpoints on the road from Erbil,