- Title: Iraqi Christians return to their homes abandoned by Islamic State
- Date: 24th November 2016
- Summary: BARTELLA, MOSUL, IRAQ (NOVEMBER 23, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF CARS ON SIDE OF ROAD AND PEOPLE CHRISTIAN FAMILY WALKING TOWARDS HOME ALONG A WALL MAN STANDING AT ENTRANCE TO HOUSE / MAN WALKING INTO HOUSE MAN MOVING A PIECE OF FURNITURE AT DOOR WAY INTO HOUSE TWO CHRISTIANS WOMEN AT DOOR OF HOUSE WOMAN AND MAN AT HOUSE / BROKEN WINDOWS OF HOUSE AND MAN CLOSING DOOR WOMAN WALKING INTO A HOUSE / OPENING A DOOR TO A BEDROOM PILE OF CLOTHES ON A BED WITH NO MATTRESS WOMAN SEARCHES THROUGH KITCHEN UTENSILS AND BOWELS AND PLATES SCATTERED ON FLOOR OF KITCHEN WOMEN OPENS WARDROBE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CHRISTIAN WOMAN, NIDHAL (ONLY NAME GIVEN), SAYING: "We have come to inspect the house. The house was completely ransacked and the ceilings were damaged. We are now living in Ainkawa in Erbil. We will return back here only when it becomes safe." MAN STANDING IN ALLEYWAY BETWEEN HOUSES HOLDING PHOTO ALBUM FOUND AMONGST RUBBLE CLOSE-UP OF PHOTO ALBUM (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CHRISTIAN WOMAN, MILANO YOUSUF SLIWA, SAYING: "It took nearly two years and two months to be liberated. Now it has been liberated, we came to see our house. You can see, they have left nothing intact including windows, doors and walls. The house is totally damaged. It is in a desperate condition. Nothing has been left intact." WOMAN TAKING CLOTHES FROM FLOOR VARIOUS OF DAMAGED PAINTING OF JESUS CHRIST WOMAN LIFTING ITEMS FROM FLOOR CHRISTIAN FAMILY LEAVING HOUSE YOUNG WOMAN WALKING WOMAN HOLDING UP HER WEDDING PHOTO CD (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CHRISTIAN WOMAN, MILANO YOUSIF IBRAHIM, SAYING: "I found this CD while we were cleaning the house. It contains pictures of my wedding. I felt very happy because this CD is more important to me than all the furniture. It is irreplaceable, while all other things can be replaced. It is very valuable to me." CAR LEAVING
- Embargoed: 9th December 2016 09:48
- Keywords: Christians Islamic State Bartella Mosul
- Location: BARTELLA, MOSUL, IRAQ
- City: BARTELLA, MOSUL, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA00159SZRYF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A damaged painting of Jesus Christ and a CD holding pictures from his daughter's wedding are pretty much all that's left for Iraqi Christian Said Shaba when he returned to his ransacked home in Bartella which he had to flee from Islamic State two and a half years ago.
The Sunni militants stole a huge safe containing his savings and set the two-storey house ablaze before Iraqi forces pushed them out a month ago from this northern Iraqi town as part of an offensive to retake nearby Mosul, the group's last stronghold in the country.
With the jihadists using suicide bombers to stop an army advance on Mosul located just 20km (14 miles) away, Shaba's hometown of Bartella remains a no-go zone for civilians.
Black army Humvees mounted with guns secure checkpoints throughout the small town.
But frustrated with being forced to live with his seven-strong family in a rented house in nearby Erbil, Shaba came to check on his house for the first time since fleeing Bartella in 2014 when Islamic State seized Mosul and much of Iraq's north.
When rumours of Islamic State advancing on Mosul in August 2014 spread, he drove his family one morning to Erbil, planning to come back on the same day to take cash and documents, but he never made it back as the jihadists were already in control by the afternoon.
Among the debris on the floor of the house, a painting of Jesus Christ survived though the militants tore our part of the face. His wife put the painting on a wall in the ransacked reception room, kissing it.
A CD containing pictures of his daughter's wedding also made it through the occupation of the militants who dumped plates and cooking pots in the kitchen while camping out in the house.
"I found this CD while we were cleaning the house. It contains pictures of my wedding. I felt very happy because this CD is more important to me than all the furniture. It is irreplaceable, while all other things can be replaced. It is very valuable to me," said Milano Yousuf, Shaba's daughter.
"It's more important to me that anything else," she said.
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