Thousands of Christians were targeted in the northern provinces of Iraq during the rule of ISIS over those ares of the country.
A significantly large proportion of Christians living in Iraq reside in the northern provinces, especially across the Nineveh plains. These areas were occupied by ISIS for a number of years and caused death and destruction as the terrorist group entrenched its rule in parts of Iraq. Christians and other minorities bore the brunt of ISIS’ totalitarian rule, which viewed those who did not adhere to their warped vision of society as heretics who deserved to be enslaved or murdered.
One such story is told by an elderly lady from the majority Assyrian town of Bartella, which is situated just a few kilometres east of Mosul, in Nineveh province. She recalls how 5 ISIS gunmen forced their way into their home in Bartella and told them to leave. If they disobeyed the order they would have been killed. The ISIS militants looked on pitilessly as the lady had no choice but to carry her elderly mother away from their home on her shoulders.
Bartella is known to be one of the most prominent centres of Christianity in Iraq. The city has numerous churches and monuments that attest to Christian and Assyrian culture and history. Other significant Assyrian and Christian centres in northern Iraq that were stormed by ISIS militants include Bakhdida and Karemlash.
Much of the northern Nineveh plains were occupied by ISIS in 2014. The group was ousted almost 2 years later, as the Iraqi forces and predominantly Christian Assyrian Nineveh Plain Protection Units hit back at ISIS.
Christians from other parts of northern Iraq have also retold similar stories. Many of these are being documented by the Shlomo Organisation for Documentation, who have the objective of protecting the rights of Christians in Iraq and holding those who commit crimes against them to account. The work of such organisations is still relevant an important and violence against Christians in the country continues.