The ancient Iraqi city of Qaraqosh, one of the country’s largest Christian areas, remains unlivable months after it was liberated from the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).
Footage obtained by Professor Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst at the Clarion Project, shows the destruction in Qaraqosh sparing little, certainly not many of the once glorious churches and ancient monasteries that once adorned the city.
“It’s very hard to see your house [of 20 years] destroyed,” an unnamed resident of a destroyed house in Qaraqosh told Mauro. The Assyrian Christian and Mauro talked as they walked through piles of rubble, stepping over all of his family belongings scattered on the ground, broken into pieces.
“We see destruction all around us,” notes Mauro as the resident gave him a tour of what is left of his home. “This home was taken by ISIS and subsequently hit by a U.S. airstrike.”
Assyrian Christians from Qaraqosh “emphasized that ISIS’ urge to destroy Christian buildings was a sign of weakness and fear; insecurity about their own faith as if Islam, or at least ISIS’ version of it,” noted Mauro to Breitbart News. “On a few occasions, I heard the line, ‘We don’t worship a God of buildings. Our God is in here,’ while pointing towards their hearts.”
Mauro is no stranger to the plight of Christians in the Middle East. He has also served as associate producer for a documentary on Christian persecution, titled Faithkeepers.
Despite all the destruction to Christian regions and the genocide that they have endured at the hands ISIS, Mauro told Breitbart News, “I do see a future for the Christian community in Iraq, because they, after all they’ve been through, see a future.”
“The ones who I walked around Qaraqosh with were adamant that their faith is even stronger than it was before and vowed to reopen the burned church and fill it with an even bigger crowd than before,” he continued. “To them, God will use this hell they’ve endured to perform a miracle.”
Footage obtained by Mauro shows that the ancient city of Qaraqosh, home to one of the oldest Christian communities in history, has been decimated, leveled to the ground where it still remains in the form of piles of rock and debris, months after it was liberated in November 2016.
Various ethnoreligious minority groups in Iraq have complained that their home towns and cities remain unlivable with damage to infrastructure and other essential months after they are declare liberated.
In the video, the viewer can easily hear the sound of Mauro and the Assyrian Christian walking over broken glass and other material, a testament to the ruins that have been left behind.
“I don’t know how I will be able to rebuild my house” and who will help me, proclaims the Assyrian Christian.
“We don’t have anything, We don’t have any houses,” he added. “How can we return to here?”
Mauro explained that Christians do not want to relocated, they want to remain in their homeland with the hope that Christians, the U.S., and the international community will help them achieve that goal.
That is a dilemma that various members of Iraq’s ethnoreligious minorities face — whether or not to return to their homeland, like the Yazidi-majority Sinjar in Iraq, that has been leveled to the ground by the war against ISIS.
“At this moment there’s no way Yezidis can go back to their homeland, although it’s been liberated,” Khalid Sulaiman Haider, a Yezidi activist originally from the Iraqi border district of Sinjar, told Breitbart News.
Many Assyrians and the Christians no longer trust local forces, particularly the Kurdish Peshmerga troops, who some minority groups believe are keeping them from returning to their land so they can steal it.
“I don’t trust any military forces,” the Assyrian told the Clarion Project’s, Mauro. “Who can protect me?”
Some minority groups feel betrayed by the Kurds when ISIS seized their lands in 2014 and the Kurds did nothing to protect them.
The Assyrian Christian told Mauro he only trusts the Nineveh Protection Units (NPU), a Chrisitan militia that has received support from Bagdhad and the U.S.
Some members of northern Iraq’s minority groups, including the Assyrian Christians and Yazidis, have joined forces to urge Baghdad and the international community to allow them to establish their own semi-autonomous region in northwestern Iraq.
The Kurds already have their an autonomous region in the same area — the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).