Ten elderly Christians who managed to escape from the ISIS militant group have spoken about their ordeal.
According to Assist News Service, the elderly Christians travelled for two days after being freed and reached Kirkuk on January 7, an area now controlled by the Kurdish Peshmerga Forces. The journey took that so long because all the roads were blocked between Mosul and Kirkuk. When they arrived in Kirkuk, they were transferred to the care of the Chaldean Diocese.
The militant group reportedly drove away the elderly Christians, eight men and two women, after they refused to convert to Islam. The Christians originally came from a nursing home in Qaraqosh.
"We did not want to become Muslim; we just wanted to leave," said a woman named Rahel.
The group moved to Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, and stayed there for three months, according to World Watch Monitor.
A nun, Sister Teresa, whose name is changed for security reason, met the elderly group in Qaraqosh. She was also driven from the monastery in Erbil and ended up in Qaraqosh. She confirmed that the militant group stole their money, jewellry and CDs.
According to Sister Teresa, the militant group detained several Christians and the church paid money for their release. Among the detained Christians were a three-year old girl, for whom they demanded thousands of dollars in ransom.
An estimated 40 Christians from Qaraqosh, Bartella and Karamles are still detained in a nursing home in Mosul, according to Sister Teresa. One of the elderly men told the nun about their ordeal under the hands of the militant group.
"When we were in Qaraqosh, ISIS used to beat us every day with their weapons or hands," he reportedly said.
The elders added that when they were in Mosul they were held in a hall with others and could hear more people detained in another hall beside them.
"They had thrown us out from our villages and our homes, so they could occupy them and then we were all clumped together in a residence in Mosul. We managed to survive thanks to the assistance of some Muslim families, who brought us food and what we needed," one of the elders told Agenzia Fides news outlet.
"Then, at some point, those of the Caliphate told us we could stay there only if we converted to Islam. I refused. If you want, send me away."