ICC Note: Residents of a Christian village in Northern Syria tell what it was like after ISIS militants invaded their village. The jihadist group has sought to forcibly impose their strict religious beliefs and erase all presence of non-Muslim religions from the areas that they control.
12/15/2015 Syria (ABC) – The Christian village of Tal Hemes, in the fertile fields of northern Syria, has been subject to an epic battle of tyranny and faith.
According to mayor Oshana Elia, the nightmare began when Islamic State (IS) fighters began visiting the village to impose their extremist form of Islam.
“They levied a tax on non-Muslims every day and ordered us to remove our crosses,” he told 7.30.
“They even spat on an old woman, who was over 70 years old, because she wasn’t covering her face.”
When IS finally seized control in February, it set about destroying all symbols of the Christian faith.
IS was eventually forced out of town by Christian militiamen like Abjr Nukhroyer, aided by US-led airstrikes.
“When we first heard that they have removed the crosses and deformed the statues, we got very furious,” Mr Nukhroyer said.
“We felt they want to erase us and kill us all.”
Mr Elia wanders through the remains of his village, distraught.
“Mariam, the Virgin Mary’s statue was here,” he sayss as he sifts through a pile of rubble.
“I can’t find the head, maybe they took the head.”