Freeing al-Dawasa neighborhood of Mosul, Iraqi forces discovered a Christian church that was used as a base by Isis militiamen.
of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Um al-Mauna) no longer bears any sign of
its Christian past: not a single crucifix or statue survived, replaced
with posters and symbols from the Daesh.
The sign above the door, "the Chaldean Catholic Church", together
with the altar of gray marble testify to the original function of the
The ocher exterior walls reads an entry ban written by Islamic
State religious police.
The militias have tried to eliminate the
crosses, damaging a stone and ripping the metal door off its hinges.
Inside there are empty niches and the base of a statue, originally
decorated with yellow and red flowers. The walls are engraved with the
war names of Daesh fighters.
Posters put up on the marble columns help understand life in the Islamic
state. One of them shows the 14 rules to live in Mosul under the Jihadi
command, including the requirement for women to dress modestly and to
appear in public only "if necessary."
On the floor covered with debris,
a leaflet was found listing the corporal punishments for those guilty
of theft, alcohol consumption, adultery and homosexuality. The
explanations are accompanied by violent representative images.
The church was liberated this week by the Iraqi army during the
offensive for the complete recapture of Mosul. The city was an important
bastion for Daesh militants, but now they are losing control.
this January, Baghdad forces recovered the eastern area of the city.
Sources claim that five jihadists were found dead outside the church.
Isis forces had taken the city in June 2014, forcing the members of the
Christian community to choose between converting to Islam, paying a
special tax, fleeing or being killed. A few weeks later, they devastated
Qaraqosh in the plain of Nineveh, where it is believed 120 thousand
Christians once lived, forcing them to flee.
The Chaldeans are the majority of Iraqi Christians, but their number has
decreased drastically: before 2003 they exceeded one million, there are
now less than 350 thousand.
According to Colonel Abdulamir al-Mohammedawi the Islamic state
controlled Mosul from the church, forcing residents to comply with the
rules and follow in their extremist ideologies.
The church is in better condition than the rest of the neighborhood. In a
shopping street, the flashy shop windows are now nothing more than iron
folded on itself and debris.