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2021-11-21 08:49:06 Views : 524 |

News: Iraq churches restored after jihadist destruction

An aerial view of the Chaldean Monastery of St George (Mar Korkis) in Iraq's northern city of Mosul clicked on Nov. 19. (Photo: AFP)

Ishtartv.com - ucanews.com

November 20, 2021


Cymbals, prayers and Chaldean Catholic liturgy resounded on Friday in Mosul's Saint George monastery, where Iraqi faithful marked the restoration of two churches destroyed by jihadists in their former stronghold.

Dozens gathered in one of the monastery's churches that have been rebuilt in stone six years after the Islamic State group (IS) pulverised them, in a city home to one of the world's oldest Christian communities.

It is the latest sign of a slow return to normality in Iraq's second city.

Mosul was left in ruins after three years of jihadist occupation which ended in 2017 when an Iraqi force backed by US-led coalition air strikes pushed them out.

"We have old memories in this monastery," said Maan Bassem Ajjaj, 53, a civil servant who moved to Arbil, capital of the neighbouring autonomous region of Kurdistan, to escape the jihadists.

"My son and daughter were baptised here," he said. "Each Friday, Mosul's Christian families would come here."

The US Department of State funded the project, which also had support from a Christian non-governmental group, L'Oeuvre d'Orient, according to Samer Yohanna, a superior of the Antonian order of Chaldean monks.

He told AFP that the jihadists destroyed 70 percent of the monastery the year after they occupied Mosul in 2014 and declared the establishment of an Islamic "caliphate".

The IS onslaught forced hundreds of thousands of Christians in Nineveh province surrounding Mosul to flee.

Iraq's Christian population has shrunk to fewer than 400,000 from around 1.5 million before the US-led invasion of 2003 that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein


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