After liberating their hometown from Islamic State, Christian fighters marked their return home after two years of forced exile by triumphantly mounting a cross atop their orthodox church and ringing the church bells.
The emotional scenes are captured in a video posted to Twitter Sunday.
“I am going to put the cross on the church,” one of the fighters shouts as he lifts a hastily constructed wooden cross above his shoulders. “Watch this Daesh, I am going to put it on the church!”
A group of men from the area outside Mosul formed a militia known as the Ninevah Plains Force after they were ousted from their homes by ISIS. They helped Iraqi forces en route to Mosul liberate the town of Bartella, and are vowing they will now fight to the death to defend their homeland.
Two of the men say a prayer after the cross is erected, and in a separate scene the church bells ring out.
“Our aim is to defend our land,” one of the fighters told France 24. “We must never relive what we have just been through with Daesh. Our people are scattered. Some of our children are dead. We have to live in tents. Now I want to send a message to my people: Bartella is liberated.”
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