‘It Was A Miracle’: The Christian Students Who Narrowly Escaped Death By Islamic State

Iraqi Kurdish security forces patrol a street in the city of Kirkuk, Iraq, as Islamic State tried to attack last Friday.
Reuters

Ruth Gledhill:CHRISTIAN TODAY
A real life “miracle” saved a group of Christian students from death at the hands of Islamic State in Iraq.

The mother of one of the girls credited “the hand of God” with saving her daughter’s life as they fled from ISIS fighters, including a suicide bomber.

The girls, speaking to Danny Gold of the Daily Beast from the relative safety of Erbil in Iraq, were in student accommodation provided by the Chaldean Catholic Church in Kirkuk when more than 70 ISIS fighters stormed the city and began a campaign of terror.

The IS fighters had arrived in Kirkuk, a city rich in oil, from nearby Daquq and were attempting to capture new strongholds as Iraqi and Kurdish forces advanced on Mosul.

Carrying rocket grenades and wearing suicide vests, they shouted over loudspeakers: “Islamic State has taken over.”

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Kurdish fighters successfully repelled the attack but in total, around 100 civilians and members of the security forces and many of the ISIS terrorists were killed. A further 100 civilians suffered injuries. At least 15 male terrorists in full female Islamic dress and wearing suicide vests were captured.

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Botin Kurdistani @kurdistannews24
#kurdish forces Captured 15 #ISIS suicide bombers dressed up like women in #Iraqi kurdish city of #kirkuk #daesh #IslamicState #kerkük
11:04 AM – 25 Oct 2016

At the start of the fighting, Rand Leith, 21, hid under a bed with several other students as gunfire erupted around their house in the early hours of the morning last Friday.

Leith, studying medecine, had in 2014 fled the Christian town of Qaraqosh when it was captured by ISIS. Qaraqosh was also liberated at the weekend. Leith’s parents had already gone to France but she had remained in an attempt to finish her medical degree.

As the students heard the jihadists shouting “Allahu Akhbar” outside their house, the church housing coordinator called them and told them to go upstairs and hide. Hours later, the Iraqi army rescued them.

Monaly Najeeb, in another house nearby and also speaking to the Daily Beast from Erbil, hid with other students first in a room under the stairs and then also under beds as fighters actually entered the house.

“It was a miracle they didn’t see us,” she said. Most of the men eventually left the house, but one fighter went into the bathroom where he blew himself up.

Luckily, the students had by then crept out of the house, one at a time, by the back door.

Asked about the escape, Najeeb’s mother, Layla Aziz, said: “It was like a miracle, God’s hand helped them.”

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