An Assyrian Christian woman shows her cross necklace at a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

An Assyrian Christian woman shows her cross necklace at a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

At War In The Garden Of Eden
At War In The Garden Of Eden

The Nineveh Plains in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan serve as home to some of the oldest continuous religious communities in the world, including the Assyrians and the Yezidis, who are indigenous to the region. In 2014 when ISIS or the so-called Islamic State began moving across the province targeting and persecuting Yezidis, Assyrian Christians, and the region’s other minority groups, many locals retaliated by forming small militant rebel factions, such as the Christian Dwekh Nawsha militia, the NPU (Nineveh Plain Protection Units), and the Yezidi YBS, or Sinjar Protection Units (an offshoot of Syria’s YPG).  Parts of Northern Iraq now remain a battleground where religion, faith, hostility, violence and infighting over territory collide on ancient land.    

 Dwekh Nawsha soldier Marcus Nissan poses for a portrait in Baqofah, Ninevah Province, Iraq. The Dwekh Nawsha (in Syriac "one who sacrifices") is a military organization created in mid-2014 to defend Iraq's Assyrian Christians from ISIS, and possibly retake their lands currently controlled by ISIS.  

Dwekh Nawsha soldier Marcus Nissan poses for a portrait in Baqofah, Ninevah Province, Iraq. The Dwekh Nawsha (in Syriac "one who sacrifices") is a military organization created in mid-2014 to defend Iraq's Assyrian Christians from ISIS, and possibly retake their lands currently controlled by ISIS.  

 Flowers and radios adorn the walls at a Dwekh Nawsha military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Flowers and radios adorn the walls at a Dwekh Nawsha military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 Yazidis, Kurds, Arabs and Assyrian Christians attend a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Christianity arrived in Nineveh in the first century, hundreds of years before Islam came to Iraq.

Yazidis, Kurds, Arabs and Assyrian Christians attend a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Christianity arrived in Nineveh in the first century, hundreds of years before Islam came to Iraq.

 Pamphlets are displayed on a table at a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Pamphlets are displayed on a table at a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 An NPU militia soldier shaves, looks at his phone and smokes a cigarette at an NPU military base near Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

An NPU militia soldier shaves, looks at his phone and smokes a cigarette at an NPU military base near Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 "Baba", a Yezidi high priest, sits in his living room in Lalish - home to the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

"Baba", a Yezidi high priest, sits in his living room in Lalish - home to the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 Dwekh Nawsha soldiers at their military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Dwekh Nawsha soldiers at their military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 Christian missionaries from Canada and Europe walk to a Yezidi refugee camp to proselytize. Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Christian missionaries from Canada and Europe walk to a Yezidi refugee camp to proselytize. Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 A painting of Lalish with graffiti carved by Yezidi pilgrims, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

A painting of Lalish with graffiti carved by Yezidi pilgrims, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 A Christmas tree at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, which was abandoned after it was attacked by ISIS militants. Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

A Christmas tree at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, which was abandoned after it was attacked by ISIS militants. Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 Dwekh Nawsha soldier Marcus Nissan jokes around with a fellow soldier while driving to their unit's base in Baqofa, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Dwekh Nawsha soldier Marcus Nissan jokes around with a fellow soldier while driving to their unit's base in Baqofa, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 Sundis Ziad Hassan wears a white gown, a Yezidi tradition, as she walks to pray at the Lalish temple, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

Sundis Ziad Hassan wears a white gown, a Yezidi tradition, as she walks to pray at the Lalish temple, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 Candles are lit at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

Candles are lit at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 A woman attends mass at a Catholic Church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

A woman attends mass at a Catholic Church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 Children participate in a religious Yezidi ritual by kissing holy scarves as way to make a wish in a temple at Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

Children participate in a religious Yezidi ritual by kissing holy scarves as way to make a wish in a temple at Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 A Dwekh Nawsha militia soldier shows his missing finger while driving to a military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

A Dwekh Nawsha militia soldier shows his missing finger while driving to a military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 Girls carry food and other items down a staircase at Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Girls carry food and other items down a staircase at Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 Girls sing in a choir during Catholic mass at church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Girls sing in a choir during Catholic mass at church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 Three children play in the courtyard of a Catholic Church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Three children play in the courtyard of a Catholic Church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 A bird flies out of Lalish temple which features a stone black snake on it's wall in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Lalish is the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world. According to legend, the snake was once a live serpent but was transformed it into a solid fixture by Sheikh Adi when it attempted to scale the wall of the temple.

A bird flies out of Lalish temple which features a stone black snake on it's wall in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Lalish is the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world. According to legend, the snake was once a live serpent but was transformed it into a solid fixture by Sheikh Adi when it attempted to scale the wall of the temple.

 NPU militia soldiers participate in a training exercise at an NPU military base in Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

NPU militia soldiers participate in a training exercise at an NPU military base in Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 A family performs religious rituals in the caves of Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

A family performs religious rituals in the caves of Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

 Two birds fly in a room adorned with crosses at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

Two birds fly in a room adorned with crosses at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 An NPU militia soldier participates in a night training exercise near an NPU military base in Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

An NPU militia soldier participates in a night training exercise near an NPU military base in Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

 A statue of Mary and the Christ child is covered in plastic bubble wrap in the convent of St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. The convent was ransacked and looted by either ISIS militants or Peshmerga soldiers which damaged many of the church's religious icons. 

A statue of Mary and the Christ child is covered in plastic bubble wrap in the convent of St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. The convent was ransacked and looted by either ISIS militants or Peshmerga soldiers which damaged many of the church's religious icons. 

 An Assyrian Christian woman shows her cross necklace at a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
At War In The Garden Of Eden
 Dwekh Nawsha soldier Marcus Nissan poses for a portrait in Baqofah, Ninevah Province, Iraq. The Dwekh Nawsha (in Syriac "one who sacrifices") is a military organization created in mid-2014 to defend Iraq's Assyrian Christians from ISIS, and possibly retake their lands currently controlled by ISIS.  
 Flowers and radios adorn the walls at a Dwekh Nawsha military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 Yazidis, Kurds, Arabs and Assyrian Christians attend a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Christianity arrived in Nineveh in the first century, hundreds of years before Islam came to Iraq.
 Pamphlets are displayed on a table at a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 An NPU militia soldier shaves, looks at his phone and smokes a cigarette at an NPU military base near Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 "Baba", a Yezidi high priest, sits in his living room in Lalish - home to the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 Dwekh Nawsha soldiers at their military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 Christian missionaries from Canada and Europe walk to a Yezidi refugee camp to proselytize. Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 A painting of Lalish with graffiti carved by Yezidi pilgrims, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 A Christmas tree at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, which was abandoned after it was attacked by ISIS militants. Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 Dwekh Nawsha soldier Marcus Nissan jokes around with a fellow soldier while driving to their unit's base in Baqofa, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 Sundis Ziad Hassan wears a white gown, a Yezidi tradition, as she walks to pray at the Lalish temple, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 Candles are lit at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 A woman attends mass at a Catholic Church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 Children participate in a religious Yezidi ritual by kissing holy scarves as way to make a wish in a temple at Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 A Dwekh Nawsha militia soldier shows his missing finger while driving to a military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 Girls carry food and other items down a staircase at Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 Girls sing in a choir during Catholic mass at church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 Three children play in the courtyard of a Catholic Church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 A bird flies out of Lalish temple which features a stone black snake on it's wall in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Lalish is the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world. According to legend, the snake was once a live serpent but was transformed it into a solid fixture by Sheikh Adi when it attempted to scale the wall of the temple.
 NPU militia soldiers participate in a training exercise at an NPU military base in Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 A family performs religious rituals in the caves of Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 
 Two birds fly in a room adorned with crosses at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 An NPU militia soldier participates in a night training exercise near an NPU military base in Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.
 A statue of Mary and the Christ child is covered in plastic bubble wrap in the convent of St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. The convent was ransacked and looted by either ISIS militants or Peshmerga soldiers which damaged many of the church's religious icons. 

An Assyrian Christian woman shows her cross necklace at a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

At War In The Garden Of Eden

The Nineveh Plains in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan serve as home to some of the oldest continuous religious communities in the world, including the Assyrians and the Yezidis, who are indigenous to the region. In 2014 when ISIS or the so-called Islamic State began moving across the province targeting and persecuting Yezidis, Assyrian Christians, and the region’s other minority groups, many locals retaliated by forming small militant rebel factions, such as the Christian Dwekh Nawsha militia, the NPU (Nineveh Plain Protection Units), and the Yezidi YBS, or Sinjar Protection Units (an offshoot of Syria’s YPG).  Parts of Northern Iraq now remain a battleground where religion, faith, hostility, violence and infighting over territory collide on ancient land.    

Dwekh Nawsha soldier Marcus Nissan poses for a portrait in Baqofah, Ninevah Province, Iraq. The Dwekh Nawsha (in Syriac "one who sacrifices") is a military organization created in mid-2014 to defend Iraq's Assyrian Christians from ISIS, and possibly retake their lands currently controlled by ISIS.  

Flowers and radios adorn the walls at a Dwekh Nawsha military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Yazidis, Kurds, Arabs and Assyrian Christians attend a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Christianity arrived in Nineveh in the first century, hundreds of years before Islam came to Iraq.

Pamphlets are displayed on a table at a Christian revival in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

An NPU militia soldier shaves, looks at his phone and smokes a cigarette at an NPU military base near Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

"Baba", a Yezidi high priest, sits in his living room in Lalish - home to the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

Dwekh Nawsha soldiers at their military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Christian missionaries from Canada and Europe walk to a Yezidi refugee camp to proselytize. Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

A painting of Lalish with graffiti carved by Yezidi pilgrims, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

A Christmas tree at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, which was abandoned after it was attacked by ISIS militants. Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

Dwekh Nawsha soldier Marcus Nissan jokes around with a fellow soldier while driving to their unit's base in Baqofa, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Sundis Ziad Hassan wears a white gown, a Yezidi tradition, as she walks to pray at the Lalish temple, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

Candles are lit at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

A woman attends mass at a Catholic Church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Children participate in a religious Yezidi ritual by kissing holy scarves as way to make a wish in a temple at Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

A Dwekh Nawsha militia soldier shows his missing finger while driving to a military base near Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

Girls carry food and other items down a staircase at Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Girls sing in a choir during Catholic mass at church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Three children play in the courtyard of a Catholic Church in Dohuk, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

A bird flies out of Lalish temple which features a stone black snake on it's wall in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. Lalish is the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world. According to legend, the snake was once a live serpent but was transformed it into a solid fixture by Sheikh Adi when it attempted to scale the wall of the temple.

NPU militia soldiers participate in a training exercise at an NPU military base in Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

A family performs religious rituals in the caves of Lalish, the most sacred and only Yezidi temple in the world, in Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. 

Two birds fly in a room adorned with crosses at St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

An NPU militia soldier participates in a night training exercise near an NPU military base in Sharafiyah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan.

A statue of Mary and the Christ child is covered in plastic bubble wrap in the convent of St. George's Chaldean church in the village of Baqofah, Northern Iraqi Kurdistan. The convent was ransacked and looted by either ISIS militants or Peshmerga soldiers which damaged many of the church's religious icons. 

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