ISIL’s legacy of Destruction in Christian Syrian Village

The Christian village of Tal Hemes, in the fertile fields of northern Syria, has, over the last few years, been subject to an epic battle of tyranny and faith.


According to mayor Oshana Elia, the nightmare began when Islamic State (ISIL) fighters began visiting the village to impose their extremist form of Islam.

“They levied a tax on non-Muslims every day and ordered us to remove our crosses,” Elia said. “They even spat on an old woman, who was over 70 years old, because she wasn’t covering her face.”

When ISIL finally seized control of the village in February, it set about destroying all symbols of the Christian faith.

ISIL was eventually forced out of town by Christian militiamen, aided by US-led airstrikes.

“When we first heard that they have removed the crosses and deformed the statues, we got very furious,” Mr Nukhroyer said. “We felt they want to erase us and kill us all.”

While ISIL has now been forced out, the group is still holding five locals hostage.

Mr Elia wanders through the remains of his village, distraught.

“How would you feel?” he asked. “Our families and honour were in the hands of IS, our churches ransacked and homes burned. How would anyone feel?”

As Mr Nukhroyer said: “It is a tragic feeling, threatening a whole religion and trying to wipe it out completely.”

  • Pray for Christians still living in Syria and Iraq. Pray that, this Christmas, they will know the truth of Immanuel – God with us.
  • Pray for protection over Syrian Christian communities and villages, and for the safe release of those still being held hostage by ISIL.
  • Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit across this nation, turning hearts to the truth of the Gospel and bringing life changing encounter with the living Christ to those who otherwise seek to destroy His name.
  • Pray for peace in Syria, Iraq and across the Middle East. Pray that the  Prince of Peace will reign in these nations again.

Isaiah 9 vs 6: “For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”




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