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Then, last June, ISIS took Mosul, less than 20 miles west.The militants painted a red Arabic ‘‘n,’’ for Nasrane, a slur, on Christian homes.The house he rented was dilapidated, not fit for their sister to live in.Qaraqosh is on the Nineveh Plain, a 1,500-square-mile plot of contested land that lies between Iraq’s Kurdish north and its Arab south.Tens of thousands jammed into cars and fled along the narrow highway leading to the relative safety of Erbil, the Kurdish capital of Northern Iraq, 50 miles away.Piling 10 family members into a Toyota pickup, Rana’s brothers ran, too.He isolated her from friends and family, guarding her jealously.Although Diyaa and Rana were both from Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city in Iraq, they didn’t know each other before their families arranged their marriage. Rana was childless, and according to the brothers, Diyaa was cheap.
A few, like Diyaa, hadn’t taken the threat seriously.They marked the walls of farms and businesses ‘‘Property of the Islamic State.’’ ISIS now held not just Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, but also Ramadi and Fallujah.(During the Iraq War, the fighting in these three places accounted for 30 percent of U. casualties.) In Qaraqosh, as in Mosul, ISIS offered residents a choice: They could either convert or pay the No one came for Diyaa and Rana.Over the next two weeks, militants rooted out most of the residents cowering in their homes, searching house to house.The armed men roamed Qaraqosh on foot and in pickups.