Push toward Mosul frees historic Christian towns
One liberated town is Bartella, an ancient village located nine miles from Mosul that was reclaimed October 20.
Will Stark with International Christian Concern says Bartella and other towns have been occupied by a ruthless regime just as brutal as the Nazis in World War II.
“So it is something definitely to celebrate,” he says, “when ISIS is removed from one of these areas.”
Christians from Bartella, an area known as the Ninevah Plains, were forced to flee two years ago when ISIS advanced. Those same troops have been forced to retreat thanks to an Iraqi-led offensive pushing toward Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
A report submitted to the U.S. State Department earlier this year documented the murder of 1,131 Christians, and attacks on 125 churches, by the Islamic State/ISIS from 2003 to 2014.
The report did not have new statistics for 2015 and 2016, though there are reports that ISIS is executing civilians, and using others as human shields, as it retreats.
The Iraqi military is working with Kudish peshmerga forces and Christian militias in the push towards Mosul, with U.S. military advisers also involved in the mission to attack Mosul from two fronts.
As those forces advance, Stark says, there is hope they can secure the area and allow people to return to the homes. But this is a war, he adds, and that is only hope.
“The happily ever after, I think, is a very long way off,” he says.
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