09/17/2014, 00.00
IRAQ

Kurdish Peshmerga free some Christian villages occupied by jihadists

US air raids fundamental. The Islamist militants mined many houses before fleeing. Syriac Christians return to the city of Alqosh, liberated days ago, and celebrate the feast of the patron saint.

Erbil (AsiaNews / Agencies) - At least seven Christian villages in northern Iraq have been freed after a series of clashes between Kurdish Peshmerga and Islamic State jihadists.

The seven villages are located west of Erbil, on the Nineveh plain. The Kurdish military commanders emphasize the fundamental contribution of the air raids carried out by the United States and report that the jihadists mined many houses before fleeing.

Since early August, hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yazidis, Turkmen and Shiites have fled the plain conquered by IS militias, which kills anyone who opposes their fundamentalist Islam and force Christians to choose between conversion to Islam, payment of a "protection" tax or death. The jihadists have conquered about a third of Iraqi territory, including the cities of Mosul and Qaraqosh. The United States has intervened with airstrikes to aid the peshmerga fighters and launched an international coalition to defeat the IS.

The villages that have been freed are close to city of Bartallah and Qaraqosh. In recent days, the city of Alqosh was also liberated.  It lies about 50 kilometers north of Mosul. According to Aina news agency, 75% of the Syrian Christians who had fled, have returned to their city, and on September 12 they celebrated the feast of the patron martyr, Mar Qardakh, with a Mass and a procession (see photo). Several people say that life Alqosh is returning to normal, although there is no water or electricity in nearby villages.

The economy, however, is disastrous. Just one example: For more than three months public employees have not received any salary and their families are living on donations from abroad.

 

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