A report on the ancient Iraqi city of Qaraqosh, which was liberated from the Islamic State terror group last year, has revealed that one of the oldest Christian communities in history living there remains decimated, but residents have hope that God will restore their land.
"We see destruction all around us," professor Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst at the Clarion Project, said in a report published in Breitbart News, while walking through the ancient city.
Mauro said IS had sought to destroy all Christian homes and signs of the faith in the city, much like it has in other captured territories across Iraq and Syria.
"On a few occasions, I heard the line, 'We don't worship a God of buildings. Our God is in here,' while pointing toward their hearts," he said of local Christian residents.
"The ones who I walked around Qaraqosh with were adamant that their faith is even stronger than it was before and vowed to reopen the burned church and fill it with an even bigger crowd than before," the national security analyst explained. "To them, God will use this hell they've endured to perform a miracle."
Qaraqosh was liberated in November 2016, but the war has left it leveled to the ground, with piles of rock and debris being the only things remaining in places where homes once stood.
Some of the Assyrian Christians who fled have returned with hopes to one day rebuild their community, but are realistic about the serious challenge they face.
"I don't know how I will be able to rebuild my house" and who will help me, one of the men walking with Mauro said.
"We don't have anything, We don't have any houses," he added. "How can we return to here?"
Touching upon American politics, Mauro said Christians and Muslim Kurds who have been targeted by IS have hope in President Donald Trump, and that he will not be "bound by conventional limitations" in fighting the terror group.
"The Kurds, the Kakai Kurdish minority, and the Christians directly and passionately asked me to relay a request to President Trump: for him to personally come visit with them and for the U.S. to provide political and military support. A safe zone for the persecuted minorities should immediately become an official objective of U.S. policy," Mauro said.
"I was surprised by how openly pro-Trump many Christians and Muslim Kurds I met with were, and they expressed their support without me even asking the question. For them, the issue is standing up against radical Islam, of which ISIS is the deadliest manifestation right now," he added.
The devastation left behind by IS as it continues being pushed out of major Iraqi cities has also uncovered some surprising finds.
Iraqi archaeologists surveying the destruction of the tomb of the prophet Jonah in the city of Nineveh found tunnels leading to the palace of the biblical King Esarhaddon, who ruled 2,700 years ago.
"I can only imagine how much Daesh discovered down there before we got here," archaeologist Layla Salih said, using an alternative name for IS.
"We believe they took many of the artifacts, such as pottery and smaller pieces, away to sell. But what they left will be studied and will add a lot to our knowledge of the period."