RELIGION

Ancient Christian Village In Iraq Returns To Life After Close Encounter With ISIS

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY CAMILLE BOUISSOU
Residents walk on a street in the Iraqi Christian Assyrian village of al-Qosh, 45 k
TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY CAMILLE BOUISSOU Residents walk on a street in the Iraqi Christian Assyrian village of al-Qosh, 45 kilometres north of Mosul, on September 19, 2014. According to the Assyrian Democratic Movement, Iraq's most prominent Christian political party, at least 2,000 men have already volunteered to fight the Islamic State group. AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED SAWAF (Photo credit should read MOHAMMED SAWAF/AFP/Getty Images)

The ancient Rabban Hermizd Monastery, on a hill overlooking the northern village of al-Qosh, is a testament to the long history of Christians in Iraq. Stone walls leading up the hill are decorated with iconography, and the 7th-century monastery is covered with the ancient Syriac language, still spoken today by the people of al-Qosh.

"Christians have been here in the Ninevah plains for thousands of years. It would be a tragedy if we just disappeared," said Athra Kado, a local Syriac language teacher.

But on Aug. 6 of last year, the people of al-Qosh did disappear, in a manner of speaking.

The self-declared Islamic State, or ISIS, was within about six miles and had been advancing rapidly in northern Iraq, overrunning Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, as well as other towns and villages in the area.

Read more on NPR

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