By Sandra Elliot
11/03/2016 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) – October 16 marked the beginning of what could easily be considered one of the most anticipated military operations in recent Iraqi history. Iraqi security forces, along with Peshmerga fighters and an international coalition of support, began the operation to liberate Mosul. This operation came after months of planning and more than two years of ISIS occupation in Iraq’s Nineveh plains.
Village after village has been liberated from militant grip as forces continue to march onward to Mosul. Despite the success of the liberating forces, ISIS has lashed back with its own deadly fury. On October 21, ISIS militants counterattacked Iraqi security forces at the city of Kirkuk, turning the city into an urban battlefield. In the early morning hours, militants ambushed the city and took cover in its many buildings to better fight the coalition army. By the end of a two-day onslaught, 40 people lost their lives.
Still in the midst of all of this, God showed up in Kirkuk.
On Thursday night, October 20, the group of militant terrorists attacked Kirkuk with their hopes set on the police and security institutional buildings. Due to the severe pushback from the Iraqi security forces, the jihadists were forced to take cover in surrounding buildings, including a Monastery of Dominican nuns and four female dormitory buildings. These dorms have been used to shelter displaced Christian students from villages occupied by ISIS.
Seventy-one female students were staying in these buildings when ISIS arrived on October 20.
“It was 3:00 am on Friday, October 21 when the girls felt there were people climbing into the houses,” Mr. Imad, the dormitory supervisor, told International Christian Concern (ICC). “The security authorities were informed of the seriousness of the [attack] and the girls stayed inside the whole day, afraid and without electricity until the evening. Then, the incursions began and the intensity of the gunfire was everywhere.”
Most of the students were able to escape the dorms in time, but not everyone. The first rescue operation secured 14 students. Security forces were able to evade snipers and rescue the students. However, the last seven students were stranded in the most volatile situation as they hid under beds while ISIS fighters occupied their home.
The seven girls hid for a terrifying seven hours. It’s truly a miracle that they weren’t found. ISIS fighters are infamously known for their cruel and inhumane treatment of women, especially women from religious minority communities. Thousands have been abused and trafficked as sex slaves in the Nineveh plains of Iraq.
“When the terrorists entered the room, we were hidden away,” one of the students told ICC. “One of them was wounded in his stomach. The terrorists wanted to escape, but because of the wounded man, they were not able to evacuate.”
“They kept some others in the house with the injured one,” the student continued. “It’s a miracle that the terrorists did not see us although we were two girls under each bed. This is the first time a power cut helped us in Iraq.”
The seven Christian girls, from their hiding spot, texted Mr. Imad asking for help.
“It was the grace of God that the terrorists didn’t see the girls and didn’t know of their existence under the beds,” Mr. Imad told ICC.
Mr. Imad, worked with nine security force members to help them escape.
“Those men were brave and willing to sacrifice their lives in order to complete the mission,“ Mr. Imad later recalled, referring to the members of the security forces who ultimately were able to rescue the stranded girls.
As we continue to pray for the people of Mosul and a possible end to their two-year long occupation, remember that God is still at work in Iraq. He has not forsaken His people just as He did not forsake these seven girls hiding in terror under their beds.