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Iraqi Christians cautiously welcome start of battle to push ISIS from Mosul

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Iraqi Christians are cautiously welcoming the start of the battle for Mosul and the Ninevah Plain, their ancestral homeland of the past 14 centuries from which they were brutally driven out by ISIS more than two years ago.

“They’ve been waiting for this day after being forced out in the summer of 2014, and many Christians have been living in very miserable conditions since. A number are eager to go back,” Fr Emanuel Youkhana told the Catholic News Service. The archimandrite, a member of the Assyrian Church of the East, heads the Christian Aid Program Northern Iraq, CAPNI.

“Of course the military operation is just the first of several phases paving the way for their return. They will need security and other guarantees before they go back,” Fr Youkhana said. “Also much reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region occupied ISIS militants will need to take place.”

This summer, the UN said that as the Mosul crisis evolves, up to 13 million people throughout Iraq may need humanitarian aid by the year’s end — far larger than the Syrian crisis. This would make the humanitarian operation in Mosul likely the single largest, most complex in the world in 2016.

Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Yousif Thomas Mirkis of Kirkuk, Iraq, told CNS Iraqi Christians view these operations “with hope and fear.”

Read more at Catholic Herald.

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