Map of the three districts which constitute Nineveh plains overlaid over the Ninawa Governorate map.
|Official languages||Syriac, Arabic, Kurdish|
|-||Governor of Hamdaniya||Nisan Karromi|
|-||Governor of Tel Kef||Basim Ballu|
|-||Governor of Al-Shikhan||Hasu Narmu|
1,620 sq mi
Nineveh plains (Classical Syriac: ܦܩܥܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܐ; Pqata d'Ninwĕ, Syriac: ܕܫܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܐ; Daŝta d'Ninwĕ, Arabic: سهل نينوى; sahl naynawā, Kurdish: Deşta Neynewa) is a region in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq to the north and east of the city Mosul. It generally consists of three districts; Tel Keppe, Al-Hamdaniya, and Al-Shikhan. The area includes the ancient Assyrian ruins of the cities of Nineveh, Nimrud and Dur-Sharrukin, as well as numerous ancient religious sites such as Mar Mattai Monastery, Rabban Hormizd Monastery, Tomb of Nahum and Lalish.
This is the only spot in entire Iraq where the largest segment of the in habitants of Christians of various denominations following various traditions of the Syriac Christianity. The five patriarchal churches represented are:
- Ancient Church of the East
- Assyrian Church of the East
- Chaldean Catholic Church
- Syriac Catholic Church
- Syriac Orthodox Church
The Assyrian inhabited towns and villages on the Nineveh Plain form a concentration of those belonging to Syriac Christian traditions, and since this area is the ancient home of the Assyrian empire through which the Assyrian people trace their cultural heritage, the Nineveh Plain is the area on which an effort to form an autonomous Assyrian entity has become concentrated. There have been calls by some politicians inside and outside Iraq into creating an autonomous region for Assyrian Christians in this area.
UN Report—In February 2010, The attacks against Assyrians in Mosul city forced 4,300 Assyrians to flea Mosul to the Nineveh plains where there is an Assyrian majority population.
2012 October-Present: The region is receiving many Iraqi-Assyrians from Syria since the violence has been escalating in Syria between pro-government and anti-government forces. Thousands of Assyrians are expected to migrate to the Nineveh Plains from Syria because of the conflict.
Nineveh Plain lies to the east, northeast of the city of Mosul in the Iraqi Ninawa Province. Although the actual ancient city of Nineveh is to be found in the eastern part of Mosul, on the bank of the Tigris river, the villages that are inhabited by minority religious groups that are non-Muslim lie to the east. Most of these inhabitants are Assyrian Christians. The Nineveh plains are not only the historical homeland of the Assyrian people and a crucible of pre-Arab and Kurd pre-Islamic Mesopotamian civilisation, but it is a province where a majority of the population is currently drawn from the minorities, around half of whom are Assyrians.
Creation of an Assyrian autonomous province
In the Transitional Administrative Law adopted in March 2004 in Baghdad, not only were provisions made for the preservation of Assyrian based culture through education and media, but a provision for an administrative unit also was accepted. Article 125 in Iraq's Constitution states that: "This Constitution shall guarantee the administrative, political, cultural, and educational rights of the various nationalities, such as Turkomen, Chaldeans, Assyrians, and all other constituents, and this shall be regulated by law." Since the towns and villages on the Nineveh Plain form a concentration of those belonging to Syriac Christian traditions, and since this area is the ancient home of the Assyrian empire through which these people trace their cultural heritage, the Nineveh Plain is the area on which the effort to form an autonomous Assyrian entity have become concentrated.
On January 21, 2014, the Iraqi government declared that Nineveh Plains would become a new province, which serves as a safe haven for Assyrians.
Attacks on Christians
Following the concerted attacks on Assyrian Christians in Iraq, especially highlighted by the Sunday, August 1, 2004 simultaneous bombing of six Churches (Baghdad and Mosul) and subsequent bombing of nearly thirty other churches throughout the country, Assyrian leadership, internally and externally, began to regard the Nineveh Plain as the location where security for Christians may be possible. Schools especially received much attention in this area and in Kurdish areas where Assyrian concentrated population lives. In addition, agriculture and medical clinics received financial help from the Assyrian diaspora.
As attacks on Christians increased in Basra, Baghdad, Ramadi and smaller towns. more families turned northward to the extended family holdings in the Nineveh Plain. This place of refuge remains under funded and gravely lacking in infrastructure to aid the internally displaced population. As attention increases on this area, a struggle also ensues between politically independent Assyrian entities (such as the Assyrian Democratic Movement) and elements in the Kurdish Regional Government for control of this area. The Kurdish Regional Government regards the possibility of absorbing the Nineveh Plain under legal provisions that would allow any area adjacent to it to exercise the option of joining the Kurdish Regional Government. Independent Assyrian political tendency is to create a region that would be directly responsible to Baghdad rather than to Arbil.
In August 2014 nearly all of the non-Sunni inhabitants of the southern regions (Bakhdida,Mosul,Bartella etc) were driven out by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant during the 2014 Northern Iraq offensive.
The Nineveh Plain appears to hold under its rich agricultural lands an extension of the petroleum fields tapped in 2006 by the Kurdish Regional Government in direct contract with foreign oil exploration companies. This added incentive for absorption by the KRG of the region may lead to economic conflict with Sunni Arab tribes in the Mosul region itself in which Assyrian Christians will become targets of violence and intimidation. Without Nineveh Plain autonomous administration, the indigenous Assyrian presence in its ancient homeland could well disappear. The amount of crude oil in the Nineveh Plains stretching from Shekhan to Alqosh is 25 billion barrels which is worth 10 Trillion US Dollars.
Main towns in Nineveh plains
- Assyrian independence
- Assyrian homeland
- Proposals for an Assyrian autonomy or state
- Nahla plains
- Urmia Plain
- Iraqi Christians hold critical meeting, The Kurdish Globe
- Dutch MP calls for autonomous Assyrian Christian region in north Iraq, AKI
- Mardean Isaac (2010-12-30). "The desperate plight of Iraq's Assyrians and other minorities | Mardean Isaac | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk". Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- "Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project". Iraqdemocracyproject.org. 2008-02-19. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
- Chulov, Martin; Hawramy, Fazel (9 August 2014). "'Isis has shattered the ancient ties that bound Iraq's minorities'". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 August 2014.