Christian Towns Liberated From ISIS: In Pictures

On Monday 17 October 2016 Iraq’s Prime Minister al-Abadi announced an historic operation to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State. Since then, the advance of Iraqi, Kurdish, and allied forces against Islamic State has proceeded far quicker than expected.

Christians towns such as Qaraqosh, Bartella and Karamles have all been liberated from Islamic State forces.

Open Doors received photos and video from the frontline, as church leaders returned to their villages and churches for the first time. They restored fallen crosses, salvaged ancient Christian manuscripts and rang the church bells in celebration!

QARAQOSH

Cross pulled down on the top of a church in Qaraqosh.

Cross pulled down on the top of a church in Qaraqosh.

A church tower looks ready to collapse in Qaraqosh.

A church tower looks ready to collapse.

The Cross taken down from Tahira church, Qaraqosh.

The Cross taken down from Tahira church, Qaraqosh. The church leaders and army replaced the cross, video below.

Inside Tahira Church, Qaraqosh. Tahira Church is the biggest church in Iraq.

Inside Tahira Church, Qaraqosh. Tahira Church is the biggest church in Iraq.

Inside Tahira Church, Qaraqosh.

Inside Tahira Church, Qaraqosh.

Islamic State flag spray painted on the wall inside Tahira church. “There is no god but Allah" in circle: "Mohammad is the messenger of Allah" The text underneath is not on the IS flag, but extra line saying: "The Islamic State will remain"

Islamic State flag spray painted on the wall inside Tahira church.
“There is no god but Allah” in circle: “Mohammad is the messenger of Allah”
The text underneath is not on the IS flag, but extra line saying: “The Islamic State will remain”

Debris strewn across the floor of Tahir church, likely a library.

Debris strewn across the floor of Tahira church.

Tahira church, also known as New Church of Immaculate, was heavily damaged and burnt out.

Tahira church, also known as New Church of Immaculate, was heavily damaged and burnt out.

Father Ammar in Tahir church, Qaraqosh. He went to the town shortly after it was liberated.

Father Ammar in Tahira church, Qaraqosh. He went to the town shortly after it was liberated.

The interior of Tahira church.

The interior of Tahira church.

Father Ammar and soldiers with the newly erected cross on Tahira church!

Father Ammar and soldiers with the newly erected cross on Tahira church!

A soldier walks towards his position.

A soldier walks towards his position near Qaraqosh.

The military on their way to Qaraqosh.

The military on their way to Qaraqosh.

An explosion in the distance, around Mosul. Captured as soldiers headed towards Qaraqosh.

An explosion in the distance, around Mosul. Captured as soldiers headed towards Qaraqosh.

An army truck heading for liberated Qaraqosh waves the Assyrian Christian flag.

An army truck heading waves the Assyrian Christian flag.

Army vehicles head for Qaraqosh.

Army vehicles and soldiers.

 

BARTELLA

Father Yacoub and Behnam walk through their church in Bartella.

Father Yacoub and Father Behnam walk through their church, Mart Shmony Church, in Bartella.

Damaged room in Mart Shmony church in Bartella.

Damag  in Mart Shmony church in Bartella.

Father Yacoub sees the destruction of his church for the first time.

Father Yacoub sees the destruction of his church for the first time.

Father Yacoub looks at the destruction inside his church.

Father Yacoub looks at the destruction inside his church.

Father Yacoub finds an ancient manuscript/Bible in the ruins of his church.

Father Yacoub finds an ancient manuscript/Bible in his church.

Rubble and Syriac manuscripts on the floor of a church in Bartella.

Rubble and Syriac manuscripts on the floor of a church in Bartella.

Father Yacound picks up a Bible of the floor.

Father Yacound picks up a Bible of the floor.

Collecting Bibles, books and manuscripts in Bartella.

Collecting Bibles, books and manuscripts in Bartella.

Father Yacoub and Father Benham from Mart Shmony collect books, manuscripts and Bibles to take back to Erbil.

Father Yacoub and Father Behnam from Mart Shmony collect books, manuscripts and Bibles to take back to Erbil.

Father Yacoub thanks a soldier for his help liberating the town and church of Bartella.

Father Yacoub thanks a soldier for his help liberating the town and church of Bartella.

Mart Shmony church in Bartella. Much of the inside is burnt, but manuscripts, books and Bibles have been taken back to the safe city of Erbil.

Mart Shmony church in Bartella. Much of the inside is burnt, but manuscripts, books and Bibles have been taken back to the safe city of Erbil.

Father Yacoub rings the bells of his church for the first time in 2 years and 3 months!

Father Yacoub rings the bells of his church for the first time in 2 years and 3 months!

 

KARAMLES

Father Thabet brought a man-high cross covered with flowers that his congregation made in Erbil. He brought it back to their home town, Karamles to put on the Saint Barbara Hill. The one that had been there was taken down by Islamic State.

Father Thabet brought a man-high cross covered with flowers that his congregation made in Erbil. He brought it back to their home town, Karamles to put on the Saint Barbara Hill. The cross that had been there was taken down by Islamic State.

View Over Karamles from Saint Barbara Hill.

View Over Karamles from Saint Barbara Hill.

Christians in Erbil celebrate after hearing that their villages have been liberated. Many Christians fled to Erbil, to the East of Mosul.

Christians in Erbil celebrate after hearing that their villages have been liberated. Many Christians fled to Erbil from Islamic State. Gerbil is to the East of Mosul.

Praise God that these towns have been liberated! Follow our blog for the latest stories and news.

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All photos and video are property of Open Doors, and must be credited to Open Doors.

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