Church bells peal in town retaken by Iraqi troops from Islamic State

by Stephen Kalin | Reuters  |  published on October 22, 2016

Iraqi Church BartellaBARTELLA, IRAQ | The din of bullets, mortars and bombs in the northern Iraqi town of Bartella was replaced momentarily on Friday by a sound not heard there for more than two years: the peal of church bells.

A cautious calm returned to this historic Christian area following its recapture from Islamic State a day earlier as Iraqi forces push west towards Mosul, the jihadists’ last major stronghold in the country.

Bartella, once home to thousands of Assyrian Christians, emptied in August 2014 when Islamic State seized control as part of a lightning blitz across large swathes of Iraq and neighboring Syria.

Nearby Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town, remains under the control of militants, according to a commander in the peshmerga, which holds nearby ground. Clouds of smoke were seen billowing from that direction this week, though the source was unclear.

Islamic State, which has targeted the adherents and religious sites of minority communities in both countries, issued an ultimatum to Christians: pay a tax, convert to Islam, or die by the sword. Most, including all of Bartella’s residents, fled towards the autonomous Kurdish region.

  • Rodney Steward

    May all the warriors of this stupid war, that are on the side of the true God be safe and prevail!! And yes people, we are still at war, that a mad President denies, or refuses to call it war, but he refuses to call a lot of things what they really are! We lost another American Soldier this week, and may God Bless his family and our Country!!

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