Jul 09 2018

Ingo Breuer

First Anniversary of Mosul Liberation Marked by Security Concerns

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Unpredictable Security Situation Continues to Discourage Return of Christians

07/09/2018 Washington, D.C. (International Christian Concern) www.persecution.org– One year ago on July 9, 2017, Prime Minister al-Abadi announced that the city of Mosul, the center of ISIS’s caliphate in Iraq, was finally liberated from the militants. ISIS captured the city on June 10, 2014 and used it as the administrative center from which to manage the rest of the territory it controlled in Iraq. Although one year has passed since the city’s liberation, a number of security concerns continue to challenge the city.

David Eubank of Free Burma Rangers was on the ground during the battle for Mosul. He recently told International Christian Concern (ICC), “The battle for Mosul was a brutal block-by-block, street-by-street, house-by-house fight. Thousands died and much of the city was destroyed.”

“Mosul, especially the west side, has a long way to go in rebuilding and becoming a place felt safe enough for Christians and other minorities to move back into,” he continued. “The election turmoil in Iraq, the competing groups and militias, the reduced but present ISIS threat, the unresolved injustices between Sunni and Shi’ite, the lack of protection for Christians, Yezidi, and others make Mosul, and especially the west side, dangerous.”

Mosul’s population before ISIS was believed to have included an estimated 30,000 Christians. Today, on-the-ground sources estimate that less than 100 Christians have returned. Most cite the destruction and lack of security as the primary reasons why they will not consider returning home.

Mekha used to live on the west side of Mosul, which was ISIS’s main stronghold. He said, “I used to have [a] house in Mosul. Now it has become just land, as the house was destroyed by an airstrike during the liberation. I was sad when I went back the first time to check it; I couldn’t recognize neither the house nor our street.”

“I don’t think Mosul is safe to go back, especially the right [west] side.” He explained, “Still, the sleeper cells exist. [Until] today, there is fighting, but we don’t know with who. I remember I stayed at my Muslim friend’s house for one night, I was able to hear the shooting and they said it is ISIS, but in a different theme. We don’t go back; I am concerned about my family there. I don’t have any belongings there so as I can go back, even some of my friend joined ISIS. I don’t want to think about going back.”

Zain used to live on the east side of Mosul, which was the first side of the city that was liberated. He said, “Life went back [and] most of the blocked streets are now opened. But the surrounding people could be ISIS. No, it is not safe. I teach at the university, so every day I go to Mosul. But I don’t like to stay so I come back to Erbil. I feel so sad when I see that I worked hard to have a house and everything [is now] gone. I don’t think I will go back one day to Mosul; it is a different Mosul now. ISIS destroyed the civilization in Mosul.”

Claire Evans, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “Mosul’s liberation from ISIS one year ago was the first step in rebuilding the community. The scars of its occupation are still highly visible and tender. The city remains utterly destroyed, and bodies continue to be pulled from the rubble. ISIS militants are regularly discovered in hiding and violence often erupts. Unless the security situation is resolved, reconstruction of Mosul will continue to be hampered. Although Christians have lived in Mosul for centuries, they simply will not consider returning home so long as the city remains a hotbed of extremism and violence.”

For interviews with Claire Evans, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press

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