A pre-Newroz visit to Kakai villages in the Nineveh Plains
By Chris Johannes
Here are the Kurdish Kakai villages of Sufaya, Khabat, Tuliban, Ghazakan along the Zab River in the Nineveh plains.
People here say they arranged stones on this hillside spelling out "Newroz," 31 years ago in protest of Saddam Hussein who refused to recognize the Kurdish holiday.
In 2017, life is slowly returning to an area Kakais have called home for more than 500 years, including planning for this year's Newroz celebrations along the hills that hug the rushing Zab river.
Kakais are rebuilding on their homes with little to no assistance from the international community or governments.
ISIS militants overran some of these villages in the summer of 2014 until they were pushed out later on by Peshmerga forces backed by the international coalition.
Landmines still line some of the roads to their towns. Locals say you can tell the homes ISIS targeted: if the blasts are ground-level, these were improvised explosive devices.