Simele or Sumail (Kurdish: Sêmêl, Syriac: ܣܡܠܐ, Arabic:سميل) is a town located in the Iraqi province of Dohuk. The city is on the main road that connects Iraq to its neighbour Turkey. It is 14 kilometers west of the city of Dohuk.
The town was mention by Yaqut al-Hamawi as "Simwel" which is though to be a corruption of the Syriac Simmala (ܣܡܠܐ) meaning "left". Another possible origin could be the Syriac Shmaʻ ʼIl (ܫܡܥ ܐܝܠ), which means "listen lord".
The town was converted to Christianity in the 2nd century and was later famous for its Syrian manuscripts. Its Assyrian Christian inhabitants were split between the Syriac Orthodox Church and the Church of the East. Its Christian inhabitants were forced out of the town by the Yazidis who settled the town in 1800. They were in turn massacred by Mir Muhammad of Rowanduz. Later on Arab tribes started settling the area.
Sumail in the early 20th century was a very small Kurdish village. An Assyrian community formed in Sumail during World War I and the mass migration from the Hakkari region of Turkey, due to the 1915 genocide by the Ottoman Empire against native Armenians and Assyrians.
The Assyrian people who resided in Sumail and its neighbouring area were subjected to a massacre on August 7, 1933, this time implemented by the Iraqi government. The massacre was the first genocide in Iraq's young history after the establishment of the new Iraqi state in 1921. Between 600 to 3,000 Assyrians died during the 1933 massacre, most of them in the village of Sumail. Thousands were forced to flee to Syria where they currently live in 33 villages of the Khabur plains, in the Al Jazeera region.
The number of families in Sumail — Kurdish and Assyrian, Muslims and Christians — increased due to the geographical importance of the city and due to the destruction of smaller, nearby villages. Families were forced to migrate and to live in the larger cities and towns of the region.
Having migrated from the neighbouring villages, most Sumailian families depend on agriculture for their income. Many villages in that area have plenty of seasonal water plants, tomatoes, and other vegetables. Many other people of Sumail depend on trade as their source of income.
Around 170 Assyrian families currently live in Sumail centre. They are believers of the two main Christian churches in the region: the Chaldean Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. The Chaldean church is named St. Mary the Virgin. The Assyrian church is named Church Of Martyrs (in the honour of the martyrs of the 1933 massacre of Sumail). Around 12 Armenian families live in Sumail as well.
- مدينة سميل في التاريخ, Ankawa.com (Arabic)
- مدينة سميل في التاريخ Ankawa.com
- http://www.fidh.org/IMG/pdf/iq350a.pdf — FIDH report on ethnic cleansing in Iraq, which describes the Sumail massacre in the second paragraph of page 17.