Iraqi Christians Slowly Return to War-Damaged Qaraqosh

In August of 2014, ISIS militants swept through towns near Mosul, Iraq, taking control and forcing thousands to flee. Among the towns was Qaraqosh, which was Iraq's largest Christian city with a population of 50,000. For more than two years, occupying ISIS jihadists tried to erase any evidence of Christianity from Qaraqosh—burning churches, destroying icons and statues, toppling bell towers, and more. Qaraqosh was retaken by Iraqi forces in October of 2016, but the city remains almost completely deserted. Little by little, some residents who were forced to flee have been returning to recover what belongings remain, to assess the damage to their property, and to attend church services and holidays. Only a handful of families have moved back to the city so far, still fearing for their security, as Iraqi forces continue to battle ISIS in nearby Mosul.

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