A Mass has been held for the first time in over two years in Iraq’s main Christian town which was recently liberated by government forces.
Qaraqosh was captured from Daesh terrorists as part of a major
offensive to liberate Mosul, the Takfiri terrorists’ last stronghold in Iraq.
“Today Qaraqosh is free of Daesh,” said Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul Butrus Moshe on Sunday.
Church bells could be heard throughout the town for the first time since Daesh seized Mosul and issued an ultimatum to Christians — pay a tax, convert to Islam, or be executed.
“Our role today is to remove all the remnants of Daesh,” said the archbishop. “This includes erasing sedition, separation and conflicts, which victimized us,” added Moshe, who was born in Qaraqosh.
“Political and sectarian strife, separating between one man and another, between ruler and follower, these mentalities must be changed,” he added.
“We had no other choice but to convert or become slaves. We fled to preserve our faith. Now we’re going to need international protection,” said Father Majeed Hazem.
“I can’t describe what I’m feeling. This is my land, my church,” said Samer Shabaoun, an Iraqi soldier who was involved in operations to retake the town.
“They used everything against us: they shot at us, they sent car bombs, suicide attackers. Despite all this, we’re here,” he added.
There are reports that about 50,000 Iraqi ground troops are involved in the Mosul offensive, including 30,000 army troops, 10,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and the remaining 10,000 from police and Popular Mobilization Units.
The battle for Mosul rages on
Earlier, Commander of Federal Police Forces Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat announced that Iraqi forces had taken back more than 60 villages from Daesh Takfiri terrorists since the beginning of the massive offensive.
The Iraqi army also released a statement announcing that they have reached within seven kilometers of Mosul and have liberated all areas behind them from the Takfiri terrorists.
It added that government troops are advancing from the town of Shura, which was retaken from Daesh on Saturday.
Government troops backed by Kurdish Peshmerga from are approaching north eastern Mosul. Iraq’s Hashd al-Shaabi forces, also known as Popular Mobilization Forces, are targeting territory and positioning their troops to the southwest of the city.