Tag Archives: Iraq

Abducted Christina Reunited With Her Parents After 3 years

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. Reuters

After almost three years in captivity, an Iraqi Christian girl abducted by the Islamic State in August 2014 has finally been reunited with her parents.

Christina Abada, who is about to celebrate her sixth birthday, was welcomed home at around 10am this morning, local time. Locals say she was released by the Iraqi Special Forces.

“It is a very happy moment; everybody is dancing and clapping and singing,” one Christian woman told a World Watch Monitor contact from the Ashti refugee camp, near Erbil, where her parents have lived for the past two years.

“She looks OK, quite healthy. I believe she must have been in the house of a family who took good care of her. She was even wearing gold earrings, so it must have been a wealthy family,” she added.

But there was one note of caution.

“Although everybody was very happy, it was also sad to see that Christina herself is in shock about all the people around her,” the woman said. “Everybody is asking questions and speaking to her, but she does not say anything back, really. She also seems to be overwhelmed by the huge crowd of people welcoming her.”

In the below clip, posted on Twitter by local journalist Steven Nabil, Christina’s mother thanks people around the world for praying for them, and praises God that Christina is now home.

Background

Christina was abducted in August 2014, when IS overran Iraq’s second city, Mosul, and then swept into the Christian city of Qaraqosh in the Nineveh Plains, where the Abadas lived. Prior to IS’s occupation, it was the largest Christian city in Iraq.

Hundreds of thousands of Christians and other minorities had already fled the northern region. Christina’s family, however, stayed behind because the father, Khader, is blind. Other Christians too old or frail to flee also stayed, hoping for a measure of mercy from the invaders – a hope which was misplaced.

On 22 August, militants rounded up the Christians, saying they would receive medical check-ups. World Watch Monitor learnt how events unfolded for Christina’s mother, Ayda. Several times, she said, IS fighters pointed at her, with Christina in her lap.

Someone gave an order to take out any gold or valuables. The Christians produced whatever they had brought – money, gold, clothes, ID cards. The IS militants took it all.

As the Christians were bundled into a bus whose windows were smeared with dirt, a jihadist walked up to Ayda. He took her little girl from her arms and just walked away.

Ayda pleaded for her daughter, but the man others called ‘emir‘ – or chief – waved Ayda away with a despising gesture. At gunpoint, she was forced back onto the bus.

Until today, that was the last time Christina’s parents had seen her.

Rumours and pain

For the first two years of Christina’s abduction, there were regular rumours that she was still alive, but over the past year those rumours had begun to dry up, increasing fears about her fate.

A year after her abduction, her parents told a contact for the charity Open Doors about their pain of not being able to celebrate with their daughter on her fourth birthday.

“My biggest joy would be when my child, Christina, would return to us,” Ayda said.

A year later, in September 2016, Ayda said “part of our heart is missing“.

“I fear my Christine grows older without me, that I will never see her again,” she added.

Always in mind

During her absence, Christina was always on the minds of Ayda and the other family members. She even featured in a play Qaraqosh residents wrote and performed in Erbil as a cathartic approach to their trauma.

“Christina, where have you been, beautiful?” one of the characters, Moshtak, said to a girl in a blood-stained dress. “Your mother is looking for you. She looked for you everywhere. Where did they take you, beautiful?”

“Can any of you bring Christina back to her mother?” Moshtak asked, before ending on a hopeful note, reminding the audience that, one day, “she will wear a new dress.”

The play was referencing the time when Christina will receive a new life in heaven, but for her parents and the rest of the community, today is a day they rejoice that there is still life for her, here on Earth.

Courtesy: World Watch Monitor

Biblical King’s Palace Found Under Shrine Destoryed by ISIS

ISIS is going around destroying any and all historical sites that belong to any religion besides Islam.

But they may have just unwittingly helped prove the veracity of at least one book of the Bible.

While occupying the Iraqi city of Mosul, ISIS demolished the traditional Tomb of Jonah, the biblical prophet tasked with preaching to the people of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh.

After ISIS was recently pushed out of Mosul, archeologists had a chance to examine the wreckage, and made a stunning discovery.

Fox News reported that below the ancient tomb lies the long-lost palace of the Assyrian King Sennacherib, whose invasion of Judah and miraculous defeat before the walls of Jerusalem is extensively documented in the Bible.

In the palace, archeologists have begun to uncover ancient inscriptions and documents from the time of Sennacherib, his son King Esarhaddon, and his son King Ashurbanipal.

The find is one of the more exciting archeological finds in recent years, and provides yet further evidence that the biblical account of Middle East history is accurate.

Article courtesy of I IsraelToday

Free From ISIS, Iraqi Town Of Bartella Celebrates First Christmas In Two Years

Christmas mass was held in Bartella and Qaraqosh in Iraq, towns near Mosul recaptured from ISIS.

Christians Restore Crucifix Atop St. George Syriac Orthodox Church In Bashiqa, Iraq

Kurdish Peshmerga liberated the town of Bashiqa in Iraq afte two years of ISIS occupation.

Local residents and Kurdish militia fighters have restored a cross to the top of Saint George’s church in the Iraqi town of Bashiqa. The cross was destroyed by Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) jihadists after they captured the town two years ago.

The restoration was made possible after Bashiqa and its twin village Bahzani were recaptured by Peshmerga fighters earlier this month.

In a solemn ceremony on Saturday, the symbol of the Christian faith was installed atop the church but the new plain white cross looks simple compared to the elaborately decorated one destroyed by the terrorists. RT

St. George Syriac Orthodox Church in Bashiqa, Iraq before ISIS.

bashiqa-church-before-isis

Church Bells Peal In Town Retaken By Iraqi Troops From ISIS

Church bells ring for the first time in 2 years after Iraqi forces liberate Christian town of Bartella.

Church bells rang in an Iraqi Christian town over the weekend for the first time since the Islamic State captured it more than two years ago, as Iraqi forces advance on the city of Mosul to push out the terrorist group.

The Christian town of Bartella was held by ISIS until Saturday, when Iraqi ground forces liberated the area. One Iraqi soldier signaled victory by ringing the bells of the town’s church, which ISIS defaced by writing on its walls, “Our God is higher than the cross,” the International Business Times reports.  Free Beacon

 

Ankara Plans To Repeat Syria Success In Iraq

mosul-offensive-turkey

 

Turkey has been in a row with Iraq’s central government over Turkish troops near Mosul.  Erdogan has warned of  bloodshed if the Iraqi army uses Shiite militia to retake Mosul, which is a largely Sunni city.

Turkey and Iraq have reached an agreement in principle that could eventually allow a Turkish role in the campaign to retake Mosul from Islamic State, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Friday after talks with President Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan has previously voiced frustration that NATO member Turkey has not been more involved in the U.S.-backed assault on the Iraqi city, once part of the Ottoman empire and still seen by Turkey as firmly within its sphere of influence.

Iraq, meanwhile, views Turkish military moves on its territory with apprehension, and any agreement on Mosul would defuse a major source of tension between the neighbors. Reuters

What is Ankara’s strategic thinking about the battle for Mosul in Iraq, even as Turkey unleashes airstrikes on US-backed Kurds in Syria? One undeniable fact: Ankara feverishly wants to be in Mosul when the cards in Iraq are reshuffled.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, responding to Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s ultimatum that Turkish soldiers can’t enter Mosul, said Oct. 17, “How can you keep me out? I have a 350-kilometer [200-mile] border there. Those who have nothing to do with the place are entering Mosul. Why? Because Baghdad is supposed to have invited them. … We will be there for the operation and at the table.”

The next day, newspapers close to Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) government reported his words in banner headlines. Erdogan has thus made Mosul an important domestic political issue in Turkey. al-monitor

How Slovakia Opened Its Doors For Iraqi Christians

They took our houses, and we became one family. They took our churches, and now we became one church… -Father Douglas Al-Bazi

Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil, Iraq.
Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil, Iraq.

Iraqi Christians fled Qaraqosh, Iraq over a year ago, 149 are now in Slovakia.

Father Douglas Al-Bazi’s congregation, almost a quarter of which is now in Slovakia, hail from the northern Iraqi/Kurdi town of Qaraqosh. What was once the center of Iraqi Christianity was invaded by ISIS in August 2014. Tens of thousands Christians fled overnight. Facing a terrible dust storm, many abandoned their vehicles and walked the 50 kilometers to the nearest big city, Erbil, Iraq.

In Erbil, some 560 Christians from Qaraqosh sought refuge at Al-Biza’s Mar Elia Chaldean Catholic Church. Originally sleeping under the open sky, they soon moved to tents, and then to the semi-permanent “caravans,” the mobile-home like structures in which hundreds currently dwell [metal containers].

How did the Iraqi Christians get to Slovakia?

Father Douglas Al-Bazi, started the rescue operation through an SOS call to the US-based Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom

Al-Bazi’s concern in getting his congregants to safety came from personal knowledge of what extremist Muslims are capable of: In 2006 he was shot in his leg and kidnapped by Islamic extremists who, over a nightmarish nine days, tortured him — breaking his teeth, back and nose. His leg still carries his souvenir bullet.

The Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom would contact former CIA agents Joseph and Michele Assad. Continue reading How Slovakia Opened Its Doors For Iraqi Christians

U.S. Stops The Flow Of Billions Of Dollars To Iraq On Iran, ISIS Fears

U.S. soldiers pose in front billions of dollars inside the vault of the Central Bank of Iraq.
U.S. soldiers pose in front billions of dollars inside the vault of the Central Bank of Iraq.

U.S. officials were concerned that Iran was benefiting from the money and that Iraqi financial firms handling funds have ISIS ties.

Fed and Treasury officials were concerned that dollars were ending up at sanctioned Iranian banks and possibly being funneled to Islamic State militants

The Federal Reserve and Treasury Department temporarily shut off the flow of billions of dollars to Iraq’s central bank this summer as concerns mounted that the currency was ending up at Iranian banks and possibly being funneled to Islamic State militants, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and other people familiar with the matter.

The previously unreported move to stop the cash shipments pushed the Iraqi financial system to the brink of crisis and marked a climactic moment in efforts to avert the flow of dollars to U.S. foes.

The situation sheds light on an important facet of the long-running U.S. battle against terror: Just as military officials worry about U.S. weapons getting to enemies, finance officials are on a global hunt to keep dollars from getting into the hands of adversaries who could use it to finance their activities. WSJ

Russian, Syrian And Iranian Military Have Set Up A Coordination Cell In Baghdad

Middle-East-mapPutin is taking the alliance built by the Soviet Union with Syria and Iran to a new level.

Russian, Syrian and Iranian military commanders have set up a coordination cell in Baghdad in recent days to try to begin working with Iranian-backed Shia militias fighting the Islamic State, Fox News has learned.

Western intelligence sources say the coordination cell includes low-level Russian generals. U.S. officials say it is not clear whether the Iraqi government is involved at the moment.

Describing the arrival of Russian military personnel in Baghdad, one senior U.S. official said, “They are popping up everywhere.” …

The Russian military flew 12 Sukhoi Su-25 “Frogfoot” and a dozen Sukhoi Su-24 “Fencer” attack aircraft in “tight formations” under the “steady stream” of the large Russian An-124 cargo planes that have been ferrying supplies from bases in Russia through Iran before traveling on to Syria, the official said.

The large cargo planes appeared as “a big blip” on radar, but flying beneath them were “tight formations” of the smaller Russian fighter jets that used jamming pods and switched off their IFF, which would identify the aircraft to radar.

The large Russian cargo planes have the capability to fly directly from Russia to Syria, but the smaller attack aircraft do not.

“The Russian jets did not have the legs to make it directly from Russia to Syria, and needed a base to refuel,” said the official, who spoke to Fox News under the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to disclose sensitive information.

According to the Aviationist, the Russian cargo planes and fighter jets landed at an airbase in Hamadan, Iran, roughly halfway between Baghdad and Tehran on Sept 18-19.

Fox News also has learned from U.S. military sources that the Russians have begun flying some of the Sukhoi fighter and attack jets from Bassel al-Assad airport, in Latakia, now a Russian forward operating base along the Mediterranean.

The planes are not dropping bombs or conducting attack missions, but just flying around near the base, according to one official. The official also confirmed that Russian destroyers are in position off the Mediterranean coast.  FoxNews

ISIS Executes 19 Girls For Refusing Sex

A Kurdish official said ISIS has executed 19 girls for refusing to have sex with them.

ISIS-Exucuted_19-girls

ISIS fanatics have executed 19 women for refusing to have sex with its fighters, a Kurdish official has said.

He claimed the women were being held hostage in Islamic State’s stronghold of Mosul, Iraq, which the terror group seized in June last year.

Meanwhile a UN envoy investigating Islamic State’s vile sex trade has said ‘girls get peddled like barrels of petrol’ and one can be bought by six different men.

She also verified a disturbing ISIS document which suggested the extremists sell the Yazidi and Christian women and children they have abducted, with girls aged just one to nine-years-old fetching the most money.

ISIS stormed the Sinjar district in northern Iraq last year and captured hundreds of women belonging to the Yazidi community, who the Islamists view as heretics. DailyMail

Kurds Fight ISIS Group While Being Bombed By Turkey

Peshmerga on a T-55-Tank outside Kirkuk in June 2014
Peshmerga on a T-55-Tank outside Kirkuk in June 2014

Turkey opposition to the Kurds in Iraq and the Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, could help and encourage the Kurdish separatists Turkey.

Turkey has supported ISIS against an Iranian-backed Shiite-oriented government.  Turkey’s recent shift to fight against ISIS comes because of closer cooperation between the US and Iran.  Turkey does not want its strategic importance sidelined, prompting it to cooperate with the U.S.-led strikes against ISIS.

Turkish jets struck camps belonging to Kurdish militants in northern Iraq Friday and Saturday in what were the first strikes since a peace deal was announced in 2013.

The strikes in Iraq targeted the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, whose affiliates have been effective in battling the Islamic State group.

The Kurds of Syria and Iraq have become a major part of the war against the Islamic State group, with Kurdish populations in both countries threatened by the militants’ advance. Syrian, Iraqi and Turkish Kurds took part in cross-border operations to help rescue tens of thousands of displaced people from the minority Yazidi group from Iraq’s Sinjar Mountain in August last year and they continue to fight in cooperation with one another against the Islamic State group in areas along the Iraq-Syria border.

They have been somewhat effective in limiting the expansion of the Islamic State militants across northern Iraq but there are concerns that Turkish airstrikes on the PKK could jeopardize Kurdish positions.Stars and Stripes

The pro-US Kurds get sold out for Turkey joining in attacking ISIS.

The White House said late Saturday Turkey has the right to defend itself against terror attacks by Kurdish rebels, after bombing Kurds in northern Iraq. FoxNews