(photo credit: Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)

(photo credit: Lazar Berman/Times of Israel)

By Lazar Berman - February 26, 2015

Originally appeared here in the Times of Israel 

The summer of 2014 was a tense time for the residents of Qaraqosh in northwestern Iraq. The Aramaic-speaking Chaldean Christian community was on edge. To the west, too close for comfort, the jihadists of the Islamic State had taken large swaths of land. Christians, like other minorities, were suffering grievously when they fell into the hands of IS terrorists.

Rumors swirled in the town that IS would make a push for Qaraqosh, but as long as it remained only a rumor, people stayed put. Leaving their family homes for a dangerous and uncertain future as refugees was too much of a risk. The community was safe, at least temporarily.

That all changed very quickly one day in August. “At 12:00 that day, people started shouting, ‘Get out, Daesh is coming!’ a refugee from Qaraqosh named Lina told The Times of Israel during an interview in Jerusalem, using the Arabic acronym for Islamic State. “Most of them left their cars and everything and just ran away. They left everything — their clothes, their gold, everything. Even their IDs.”

Not everyone managed to flee. Read More