ASIA/IRAQ - Syrian Catholic priest says: Christians will return to the Plain of Ninive only when and if Mosul is freed

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Erbil (Agenzia Fides) – With the uncertain prospects in the region of north Iraq the Syrian Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Moshe, and the faithful of his diocese have decided to try to return to Qaraqosh and other towns in the Plain of Ninive only if and when the situation of Mosul is settled, that is, only when the second largest city in Iraq is free of the militia of the Islamic Caliphate that controls it since 9 June. Fides learned this from the Syrian Catholic priest Fr Nizar Semaan, who works with Archbishop d Moshe: “It is a common sense decision taken by the archbishop and his people – Fr Semaan explains -: it would be pointless to return to our homes while the situation remains so uncertain and we are all exposed, as before, to the danger of fresh attacks by the Islamic State Jihadists”.
In recent days, according to local sources consulted by Fides, Islamic State militia have concentrated military vehicles in central areas of towns in the Plain of Ninive – beginning with the city centre of Bertella – giving the impression they are preparing to resist an advance by Kurd Peshmerga. Fr. Semaan thinks the reconquering of Mosul and Ninive Plain cities fallen into the hands of Jihadists is also conditioned by political-military tactics difficult to interpret. “The Peshmerga – the Iraqi priest told Fides – have broken the Jihadist line of defence and last week were only a few kilometres from Qaraqosh. We expected that any moment they would retake the city where there are reports of sacking and not one house was spared. Instead, the advance halted and no one knows why. At times it would appear that events in the field are moved by politico-military strategies and decisions regarding a plan whose real aim escapes us”. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 10/9/2014).