Nineveh plains

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Nineveh Plains
سهل نينوى
ܦܩܥܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܐ
Map of the three districts which constitute Nineveh plains overlaid over the Ninawa Governorate map.
Map of the three districts which constitute Nineveh plains overlaid over the Ninawa Governorate map.
Largest city Bakhdida
Official languages Syriac, Arabic, Kurdish
 -  Governor of Hamdaniya Nisan Karromi
 -  Governor of Tel Kef Basim Ballu
 -  Governor of Al-Shikhan Hasu Narmu
 -  Total 4,197 km2
1,620 sq mi
 -  2012 estimate 500,000
 -  1987 census 281,829
 -  Density 117/km2
303/sq mi

Nineveh plains (Classical Syriac: ܦܩܥܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܐ, Pqata d'Ninwĕ, and modern Syriac: ܕܫܬܐ ܕܢܝܢܘܐ, Daŝta d'Ninwĕ; Arabic: سهل نينوى‎, sahl naynawā; Sorani Kurdish: Deşta Neynewa) is a region in Iraq's Nineveh Governorate to the north and east of the city Mosul, from which it is also known as the Plain of Mosul. It was formerly known as the Plain of Sanjar or Sinjar from its major medieval settlement. It was the location of al-Khwārizmī's determination of a degree during the reign of the caliph al-Mamun. The area also includes the ruins of the ancient Assyrian cities of Nineveh, Nimrud, and Dur-Sharrukin as well as numerous ancient religious sites such as Mar Mattai Monastery, Rabban Hormizd Monastery, the Tomb of Nahum, and Lalish.[1]


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.[2]


Singara in a detail from Peutinger's map, a medieval copy of a 4th century Roman original.
A map of the "Jazira"'s provinces in medieval times.

Peutinger's map of the inhabited world known to the Roman geographers depicts Singara as located west of the Trogoditi. Persi. (Latin: Troglodytae Persiae, "Persian troglodytes") who inhabited the territory around Mount Sinjar. By the medieval Arabs, most of the plain was reckoned as part of the province of Diyār Rabīʿa, the "abode of the Rabīʿa" tribe. The plain was the site of the determination of the degree by al-Khwārizmī and other astronomers during the reign of the caliph al-Mamun.[3] Sinjar also boasted a famous Assyrian cathedral in the 8th century.[4]

Attacks on Christians[edit]

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 February 2010, the attacks against Assyrians in Mosul forced 4,300 Assyrians to flee to the Nineveh plains where there is an Assyrian-majority population.[5] From 2012, it also began receiving influxes of Assyrians from Syria owing to the civil war there.[6][7]

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.[8]

Creation of an Assyrian autonomous province[edit]

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.[9][10]

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."[11][12] 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.[13]


This is the only spot in entire Iraq where the largest segment of the inhabitants are Christians of various denominations following various traditions of the Syriac Christianity. The five patriarchal churches represented are:[14]

The area is considered by its Assyrian inhabitants as being the original Assyrian heartland. Other inhabitants are the Yezidi-Kurds, Shabaki-Kurds, Turkmens and Muslim-Kurds.


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.[15][16]

Main towns in Nineveh plains[edit]

See also[edit]



Coordinates: 36°37′N 43°7′E / 36.617°N 43.117°E / 36.617; 43.117