A 17-year-old girl caught in the crossfire of war, trapped for three days in the rubble of her own home, was finally freed Saturday by Iraqi soldiers and firemen.
The teen, only identified as Rahab, saw her house destroyed as the Iraqi army advanced on ISIS positions in western Mosul.
American missionary David Eubank of the Free Burma Rangers assisted in Rahab’s rescue. In a letter provided to Faithwire, he described the operation in stunning detail.
“We thank God for the rescue of a 17 year old girl, Rahab, trapped in a collapsed building behind ISIS lines for three days,” the letter, signed May 7, begins.
Yesterday, 6 May 2017, the 1st Battalion of the 36th Brigade, Iraqi 9th Armored Division along with elements of a Iraqi fire department rescued her. She had been trapped under the rubble of her house during fighting between the advancing Iraqi Army and ISIS. The surviving family members ran a gauntlet of ISIS fire to get to us.
Eubank shared that he and the rescue team led a recon operation on May 5 to inspect and explore the area where the missing teen was thought to be hiding. After discovering Rahab alive, they risked their lives to obtain the cutting tools needed to dig her out.
On the recon we were immediately attacked by ISIS. As we were running down the street to get back to our Humvee I looked up and saw a large ISIS flag. We were in their strong point and barely made it out. We returned to the corner of the city we held and made a plan with Generals Kasem and Mustafa of the 9th and 36th, to get her out. We did not know if she would survive another night and prayed she would and that ISIS would not find her.
On May 6, the team returned with additional help — members of an Iraqi search and rescue team — to try and free Rahab. Eubank prayed in Jesus’ name that they would find a way to reach the young woman and save her life.
As we approached the building she was trapped in we found our way blocked by obstacles ISIS had put up and rubble from the fighting. We took many wrong turns under ISIS fire to find a way. Col. Arkan remained cool all the time and we finally found a way to get to her. Once there with our two Humvees we brought up three BMP armored cars to provide security. ISIS attacked us from three sides and the Iraqis fought back as we and the rescue team dragged cutting equipment over the collapsed roof and rubble.
Still under fire, the search and rescue volunteers and soldiers worked to dig Rahab out. As they dug, Eubank wondered if she was still alive, or if their efforts had come too late. Then, he heard her cry out and “my heart [leapt] within me,” the missionary writes.
She was still alive!! “Thank you Lord”, I prayed. As the fire men carried her out, ISIS intensified their fire and we had to fight our way out. We got in the Humvees but soon were stuck and almost flipped our Humvee. We back up and prayed and found another way. Every one got back safely. I was filled with gratitude and was in a kind of wonder, “Was this real, was she really alive, had we really made it’?
It’s rare that stories like these have a happy ending. Eubank notes in his letter that during his time in Mosul, 18 civilians have been shot by ISIS and 10 have been killed. More than 7,000 have fled.
Following the rescue, the team loaded Rahab into an ambulance and transported her to a field hospital. On their way to the hospital, Eubank had the chance to talk to the teen whose life he helped save.
On the way I held her hand and talked to her through Faiz our Iraqi medic. “My name is Rahab,” she said. “I am 17 and God sustained me [throughout] the time I was trapped. Thank you for helping me. I love you. If you have another daughter please name her after me.” She [spoke] with authority and smiled sweetly. I laughed and said, “You are a tough lady! Yes I will do that if we have another daughter. I am your friend forever. I love you too and will help you in anyway I can.”
Eubank stayed with Rahab at the hospital until she was relocated an hour later. In his letter, he reflects on the miraculous grace that made the rescue possible.
My heart of full of gratitude and awe. It still seems [too] good to be true. [Amidst] all the killing we have seen, here is a life snatched from death. To see and be part of seeing Rahab saved is overwhelming. I thank God and you all for this. My message is thanks for caring, for praying and helping us be here. We can [not] do this alone.
Here are more pictures of the rescue as it unfolded:
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