BAGHDEDE / NINEVEH PLAINS, Iraq – In August 2014, the Islamic State (IS) attacked Mosul, Sinjar and the Nineveh Plains. The people of the Nineveh Plains, mostly Syriacs, Arabs and Yazidis, were forced to flee the region the same day as the Iraqi army and the present Kurdish Peshmerga failed them. Hundreds of thousands left their homes to escape the ruthless terrorist organization. Most fled south to Baghdad or north to the Kurdish Autonomous Region in Iraq, which were rescued by US air power from further IS advance.
Displacement camps would be the home of Syriacs (Chaldeans-Arameans-Assyrians) for years to come. Those who saw no hope in a future for Syriacs in Mesopotamia and Iraq, unfortunately, fled further and emigrated to the West to join the ever-growing Syriac diaspora.
From the defeat of the Caliphate and the liberation of the region from Islamic State in 2016, between 50 and 60 percent of displaced Syriacs have returned to Baghdede, district governor and mayor of the Syriac town of Baghdede Cissam Behnam Matti told al-Cahid al-Jadid TV channel, which would bring the current population of Baghdede to some 30,000. The percentage of other displaced people returning to the region has reached a percentage of over 90, he said.
Behnam Matti informed that reconstruction work is still continuing and that some 6 billion Iraqi Dinars were spent so far in reconstruction programs. About 2 billion Iraqi Dinars are budgeted for future reconstruction projects in the Baghdede district. The reconstruction of the churches and mosques in the Baghdede district has been completed. One of churches is the St. Mary’s Church al-Tahira al-kubra which is one of the biggest churches in the Middle East.
The name Baghdede or Bakhdida has two components “Beth” and “Bakhdida.” It is also known as “Qaraqosh”, a name given to the town by the Ottoman-Turks. The name Bakhdida is of (Eastern) Syriac origin.
The following theories for the derivation of the name are known:
- “Beth Khdidy” meaning “House of Youth”.
- Some think it might be from Syriac “Beth Deta” or “House of the Kite” which made the Ottomans give it the name Qaraqosh or “The Black Bird” in Turkish.
- The name Qaraqosh or Karaqosh precedes the Ottomans. In Akkadian cuneiform “Qushu” means bird too (according to Assyrian Dictionary of Chicago, The Oriental Institute). It is then not a mere coincidence that the Ottomans named it that. The Turkish name would then be based on the original Akkadian name.
- Another explanation for the name is “Kar” which in ancient Assyrian and Akkadian means castle, fortress or citadel. Deriving from this, it is believed that the older and original name of Bakhdida was “Kara Qushu” or “Castle of Birds”.
The Syriacs of Baghdede adopted Christianity early in the religions history and it has remained Christian since. There are eight churches in Baghdede divided between the Syriac Catholic and Syriac Orthodox denominations:
1. Church of the Immaculate (or Church of the Virgin Mary)
2. Church of Mar Zyna
3. Church of Sarkis and Bakos
4. Church of Mart Shmuni
5. Church of John the Baptist
6. Church of Mar Jacob
7. Church of Martyr Mar Gewargis (Syriac Orthodox Church)
8. The New Church of the Immaculate
Beauty pageants should be banned. But good news an Assyrian from Qaraqosh won, a city once at the brink of total destruction. Some semblance of normalcy might be seen, but without an autonomous region for Christians, permanent stability is unlikely. Did you know that Qaraqosh 1/ https://t.co/HOYeStuyhX
— Wisdom of the Syriac Orthodox Church ♰ (@SyriacMalankara) July 31, 2021