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ICC Note: The many Christian villages of Iraq’s Nineveh province now lie empty and desolate after the years of invasion and fighting against Islamic militants. Most Christians from these areas fled their homes during the incursion of ISIS fighters in the summer of 2014. In the great wake of this battles, towns now lie silent and deserted along the front lines of the battle.

06/26/2016 Iraq (Albawba): Once one of the many Christian villages that dot Iraq’s northern Nineveh province, today the tiny town of Baqofah is mostly deserted. Scant electricity flickers in abandoned homes and debris litters the streets. The town’s Assyrian residents, adherents of Chaldean Catholic church, are long gone.

Most of Nineveh province’s Christians fled for their lives when Daesh (ISIS) fighters seized Mosul and surrounding villages in June 2014.  Peshmerga (military of Iraqi Kurdistan) forces retook Baqofah and some other Christian towns soon afterwards, but many former residents remain in displaced persons camps in Erbil and elsewhere, afraid to return home.

Families continue to leave their homes by the hundreds in the northern Nineveh province as fighting rages between Daesh and a coalition of pro-Iraqi forces in the struggle to retake Mosul from the extremists. Recent small victories in the city’s outskirts seem to bode well for the slow-moving offensive, but Mosul remains the grand – and elusive – prize in Iraq’s fight against Daesh.

Still, there is hope.  Last week, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the “liberation” of Fallujah, just 50 kilometers west of the capital Baghdad, after two years of Daesh control.  He promised Mosul would be next.

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