07/12/2017, 14.15
IRAQ
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Mar Sako: After the liberation of Mosul, erase jihadist ideology and build peace

The Chaldean Patriarch expresses appreciation for the efforts of the Iraqi army and Peshmerga that led to victory in the former stronghold of the Caliphate. He outlines the "long and tiring" road that leads to lasting security. Still isolated episodes of violence in the city. Iraqi Prime: Living together with our "Christian brothers and sisters" is the "natural response" to Daesh. No confirmation of al- Baghdadi’s death.

Mosul (AsiaNews) – Heartfelt appreciation for the "efforts" of the Iraqi army and Kurdish Peshmerga militiamen who wrested Mosul from the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis), although there are still isolated episodes of violence in the city. An invitation to walk the "long and tiring" road to the complete "eradication" of the jihadist ideology and the construction of a lasting "peace and security". These are the hopes of primate of the Chaldean Church Louis Raphael Sako, in a note published on the patriarchate website and sent to AsiaNews, commenting on the "liberation" of the former stronghold of the Caliphate and tracing the path for the rebirth of the region and the whole country.

On 10 July, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the victory of the Arab-Kurdish coalition that launched an offensive against the Isis in Mosul in October. An operation lasting over nine months and characterized by heavy fighting, massive destruction and a new mass exodus of civilians used as human shields by jihadists.

Local city witnesses report sporadic fighting throughout the day, in spite of official government proclamations. Sources close to the coalition, assisted by US air raids, speak of some isolated "pockets of resistance" of militants in the Old City. There are still 3,000 people in the area, mostly trapped civilians, of which the majority are disabled, elderly and children who have lost contact with their families in an attempt to escape violence.

Yesterday afternoon, news of the death of the "caliph" of Isis Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was reported by Iraqi TV Al Sumaria, quoting a source of the Nineveh plain. The Caliphs of the Caliphate are set to name al-Baghdadi’s successor, although doubts remain about the authenticity of the claim. Experts, however, have many doubts and in the past the IS leader has been given for dead or wounded several times, without any actual evidence.

Following the announcement of the victory, visiting Mosul the Iraqi Prime Minister met a delegation of Christians from the city and the Nineveh plains at the headquarters of the command for military operations. During the meeting, the government leader pointed out that "our ambition" is that all the displaced and the "children of all religions, nationalities and beliefs can return", especially "our Christian brothers". The "natural answer" to Daesh [Arabic acronym for IS], he added, "is to live together."

Abadi also recalled that "our diversity" is a source of "pride" and must be "preserved to render Daesh's design, which wanted to impose a single color on Iraqis " and break a "unity formed in the millennia". Our task, he concluded, is to "protect citizens and provide them services regardless of their ethnic and religious affiliation, fighting any discrimination and promoting coexistence" among "Nineveh's children."

This ideal of unity, sharing, and joint commitment have also been repeatedly relaunched over the past few weeks by the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, with a view to reconstruction. Despite the efforts so far, writes the prelate, "there is a long and exhausting road" to eradicate Daesh and restore peace. Iraqis and, in particular, Christians ask for "new awareness" to ward off "further decline, division and fragmentation of the past." Sako calls on the "oldest" Christian community in the world to join a common effort to "rebuild homes and infrastructure"; to facilitate the "return of refugees"; to create "small teams" of up to 10 people working on behalf of and representing Christians; to work with a team spirit at home and abroad and to create of a central structure that can respond to the needs of Christians and their aspirations. (DS) 

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