Assyria: take a peek inside a Christian village on the frontlines with Daesh

Published June 23rd, 2016 - 11:55 GMT

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.  

Meanwhile, signs of the Mosul offensive are visible in Christian villages like Baqofah, where the only residents are peshmerga and allied forces using the town as a military base.  

Al Bawaba offers you a look inside Baqofah-a glimpse of what Assyrians will return to once Nineveh and greater Mosul are free of Daesh. 

(Photos by Adam Lucente, words by Madeline Edwards)

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Baqofah, Iraq

A view of the Assyrian Christian village of Baqofah, Iraq from atop Dwekh Nawsha’s base. Dwekh Nawsha is an Assyrian paramilitary group allied with the peshmerga.

Baqofah, Iraq

A street in Baqofah, Iraq. The village’s residents fled in mid-2014 when Daesh forces overtook Mosul and surrounding villages.

Baqofah, Iraq

A water pump in Baqofah, Iraq near the village's gates.

Baqofah, Iraq

An abandoned house in Baqofah, Iraq. Many of the Nineveh province’s Christians remain in other cities in Iraqi Kurdistan like Erbil and Dohuk, until they are able to safely return home to their villages.

Baqofah, Iraq

A broken down car in Baqofah, Iraq.

Baqofah, Iraq

A Chaldean cemetery in Baqofah, Iraq. Many of Baqofah's residents were adherents of the Chaldean Catholic church.

Baqofah, Iraq

Dwekh Nawsha soldiers in Baqofah, Iraq. Today, the only people who remain in Baqofah are peshmerga and Dwekh Nawsha soldiers, including a handful of western volunteers. They hope to retake Mosul and its outskirts from Daesh.

Tel Eskof, Iraq

Fighters from the Nineveh Plains Force (NPF), another Assyrian paramilitary group, in neighboring Tel Eskof, Iraq.

Tel Eskof, Iraq

An NPF soldier in Tel Eskof, Iraq.

Erbil, Iraq

A store in the internally displaced persons Ankawa Camp 2 in Erbil, Iraq. Many Christians from who fled Daesh in June 2014 remain in such camps as they await the region's liberation.

Baqofah, Iraq

View of an Assyrian school in Baqofah, Iraq looking towards Daesh-controlled Batnaya.

Baqofah, Iraq
Baqofah, Iraq
Baqofah, Iraq
Baqofah, Iraq
Baqofah, Iraq
Baqofah, Iraq
Baqofah, Iraq
Tel Eskof, Iraq
Tel Eskof, Iraq
Erbil, Iraq
Baqofah, Iraq
Baqofah, Iraq
A view of the Assyrian Christian village of Baqofah, Iraq from atop Dwekh Nawsha’s base. Dwekh Nawsha is an Assyrian paramilitary group allied with the peshmerga.
Baqofah, Iraq
A street in Baqofah, Iraq. The village’s residents fled in mid-2014 when Daesh forces overtook Mosul and surrounding villages.
Baqofah, Iraq
A water pump in Baqofah, Iraq near the village's gates.
Baqofah, Iraq
An abandoned house in Baqofah, Iraq. Many of the Nineveh province’s Christians remain in other cities in Iraqi Kurdistan like Erbil and Dohuk, until they are able to safely return home to their villages.
Baqofah, Iraq
A broken down car in Baqofah, Iraq.
Baqofah, Iraq
A Chaldean cemetery in Baqofah, Iraq. Many of Baqofah's residents were adherents of the Chaldean Catholic church.
Baqofah, Iraq
Dwekh Nawsha soldiers in Baqofah, Iraq. Today, the only people who remain in Baqofah are peshmerga and Dwekh Nawsha soldiers, including a handful of western volunteers. They hope to retake Mosul and its outskirts from Daesh.
Tel Eskof, Iraq
Fighters from the Nineveh Plains Force (NPF), another Assyrian paramilitary group, in neighboring Tel Eskof, Iraq.
Tel Eskof, Iraq
An NPF soldier in Tel Eskof, Iraq.
Erbil, Iraq
A store in the internally displaced persons Ankawa Camp 2 in Erbil, Iraq. Many Christians from who fled Daesh in June 2014 remain in such camps as they await the region's liberation.
Baqofah, Iraq
View of an Assyrian school in Baqofah, Iraq looking towards Daesh-controlled Batnaya.