In the Midst of Liberation a Family is Destroyed
29 October, 2016
Kurdistan, Northern Iraq
Dear friends and family,
Yesterday, in the midst of the celebrations of the liberation of Faizalia, we met the brother of a family that was destroyed. A coalition airstrike five days earlier had accidentally killed a family of eight as the coalition targeted ISIS in the buildup to the liberation of Faizalia.
In the same afternoon of the liberation, a group of over 100 men gathered to bury the family. We approached carefully as we knew the people would be very sad and also angry. Our team prayed together and as we got closer a man approached us from the burial group. We told him we were so sorry and he brought over the brother of the family that was killed. The brother looked like a dead man himself. He was so sad. With him was a strong looking and very angry young man who glared at us. I told Micah and Joseph to be ready for anything as more and more sad and angry men began to press around us. We were just on the edge of town and away from the Peshmerga forces. I told the brother and others there: “I am so sorry for what happened. It was an accident. It is very terrible what happened. None wanted this to happen and the soldiers in charge are my friends and have families and mourn with you. They are sorry too. We are with the Free Burma and Free Kurd Rangers and are here to help and to say we are sorry.” I asked if I could pray. The brother nodded yes and I got on my knees before him and apologized on behalf of those who mistakenly hit his family. I told him again how sorry I was. I prayed for God’s help and comfort for him all there.
As I began to rise, he reached down and took my hand and helped me up. He cried as we embraced and he said, “Thank you, please tell the world what happened. We know it was ISIS they were after and we agree with that, but they hit our family and killed them all. I feel so bad. Please tell people.” I told him we would.
At the graveside as the bodies were being lowered into the graves, the most angry of the young men, the one I had warned Micah about, approached me. He told me he was a relative of the family who was killed. I told him I was sorry and he looked at me and suddenly softened and hugged me. There was nothing more to say. We were all sad together.
As we walked back into the town we saw the Peshmerga with a captured ISIS fighter who had been hiding. He was taken away and the people kept cheering us and giving us bottled water and thanking us. After posting a security force in the town, the Peshmerga main body drove out of the town to prepare for the next place to be liberated. We followed them out as the sun set. As we approached our patrol base in the middle of the desert, we were shelled by ISIS fighters in the towns that have not yet been cleared. None of us were hit and we and ISIS know the end of them as a military force is sure. There will be many challenges after ISIS is defeated and we are still a long way from that defeat, but today was a great day of liberation. We thank God, the Peshmerga, the coalition and all of you who help and pray for that. Photos of the man who lost his family and the burial follow.
God bless you,
Dave, family and teams