The historic Iraqi Christian town of Bartella has been liberated after two years under Islamic State control.
According to ChristianToday.com, Iraqi forces were able to liberate the town as part of the offensive to retake the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants.
Mosul is the Islamic State’s last major stronghold in Iraq.
Iraqi Christians are hoping they will be able to return home soon and begin rebuilding their communities.
In Bartella, the Mart Shmony Syriac Orthodox Church was damaged when the Islamic State overran the town, but when Bartella was liberated, the church’s bells rang for the first time in two years.
The church was damaged in a fire and the inside was vandalized. Pews were toppled over and pages from Bibles were ripped out and strewn about.
Nevertheless, residents are eager to begin returning and restoring the church and town.
"The church, a foundation and a community gathering place for years, has been damaged and left in ruins. No doubt the restoration work will commence once its citizens start returning," said Christian group A Demand For Action.
The Telegraph’s Josie Ensor posted a moving video to Twitter showing the Mart Shmony church’s bells ringing.
Went with Iraqi Golden Division today to newly liberated Christian town Bartella. Church bells ring again after two years under ISIS #mosul pic.twitter.com/mWZ8w87veQ— Josie Ensor (@Josiensor) October 22, 2016
"We're feeling something you can't describe – that's how happy we are," said Hussam Matteh, a member of the Nineveh Plains Forces, a Christian militia helping to liberate Iraq from ISIS control. "We are now back home in the land of our ancestors, our churches and our heritage."
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: October 24, 2016