ERBIL – Kurdish fighters said they had taken the town of Bashiqa near Mosul from Islamic State on Sunday as coalition forces pressed their offensive against the jihadists' last stronghold in Iraq.
An American official said Masoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdish region, had told U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter that the Kurds had succeeded in liberating Bashiqa from Islamic State.
Kurdish Peshmerga fighters told reporters at the scene that they had entered Bashiqa. Journalists were not being allowed into the town, which lies 12 km (8 miles) to the northeast of Mosul. Its capture, if confirmed, would mark the removal of one more obstacle on the road to the northern Iraqi city. more >>
As Iraqi-led coalition forces fight to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul and surrounding areas from the Islamic State, two Nineveh towns that were once home to hundreds of Christian families have finally been liberated from the barbaric death cult, according to the Archbishop of Erbil.
Speaking to The Christian Post on Friday, Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda said the hopes of thousands of displaced Christian families are on the rise knowing that there is finally a concentrated ground effort to reclaim and liberate their homelands from IS.
It was reported earlier this week that Iraqi-led forces, including Kurdish Peshmerga troops and Christian militia fighters, have besieged and are battling to liberate the once-largest Christian town in Iraq, Qaraqosh. Warda told CP that coalition forces have already liberated two smaller Christian villages of Bartella and Mar Oraha, which are situated just miles outside of Mosul. more >>
It was in June of 2014 that ISIS first arrived in Mosul. Four short days later, the city fell into the hands of the terrorists. Its population, once estimated at over 1.8 million, dwindled as thousands of residents fled. Those who remain are now being held captive by thousands of ISIS fighters.
Now, the long-awaited campaign to liberate Mosul is finally underway. However, just as with previous military operations in both Iraq and Syria, it's the aftermath of liberation that poses the most sobering challenges to the international community.
What is the right way forward, both politically and from a humanitarian aid perspective, in a region of the world that has been in crisis for decades? more >>
Displaced Iraqi Christians from the Mosul region are still fearful about the prospects of returning home, even though the coalition offensive to reclaim their homelands is underway and despite the fact that some of them have held onto their house keys in hopes that one day it will be safe to return.
While Iraqi-led forces continue to press forward in pursuit of reclaiming Mosul and pushing the Islamic State out of Iraq's second largest city, forces to the East besieged Qaraqosh on Tuesday, a town located 20 miles Southeast of Mosul that was once home to Iraq's largest Christian community.
Before IS rose to power in the Nineveh Province in 2014, the town of Qaraqosh and its surrounding areas were home to about 50,000 Iraqi Christians, totaling about one-quarter of the nation's Christian population, before they were forced to flee to Kurdistan or leave the country in fear of being killed or persecuted for their faith. more >>
As conflicts in Iraq and Syria have forced millions of residents to flee their homes over the last several years, a leading Christian persecution activist has explained that over 80 percent of Christians have left Iraq in the last 13 years, while nearly half of all Christians have fled Syria since 2010.
Before the United States military went into Iraq in 2003, captured dictator Saddam Hussein, and opened up a power vacuum, Iraq was home to about 1.5 million Christians. But after sectarian violence commenced and the brutal Islamic State terrorist organization rose to power in 2014, fewer than 300,000 remain.
Meanwhile, in neighboring Syria, civil war has ravaged the country over the last five years and the rise of IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) inside the country has compounded problems, thus creating one of the worst refugee crises in the 21st century. more >>
Iraqi Christians who were driven out of their ancestral home of Mosul by ISIS in 2014 are praying they'll finally be liberated from the terror group after the allied military offensive and able to safely return without reprisal from those who supported IS' ethno-religious genocide.
"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," said Father Emanuel Youkhana of the Assyrian Church of the East, according to Catholic News Service.
"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," he continued. "Also much reconstruction and rehabilitation of the region occupied the Islamic State militants will need to take place." more >>