Freedom from ISIS celebrated with first Mass in years

Freedom from ISIS control was celebrated on Sunday in Qaraqosh with the first mass in two years. Before ISIS took over the area, Qaraqosh was home to the Northern Iraq region’s largest Christian population.

The mass was announced with pealing church bells and celebrated in the Church of the Immaculate Conception’s bombed-out shell.

The handful of worshipers gathered between the burned walls in front of a damaged altar is a remnant of Qaraqosh’s Christians.

Christianity in northern Iraq dates back to the first century AD. Qaraqosh is nearby the ruins of the Biblical cities of Nimrud (then called Calah) and Nineveh.

The Archbishop of Mosul, Butrus Moshe, who said mass on Sunday, commented that the next task is to free the city of everything related to ISIS and its victimising works.

Moshe says he is particularly keen to change the political and sectarian bitterness that keeps individuals and leaders at odds with each other.

Hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis are now hopeful they can return home. At the same time, however, they fear what they might find when they get there.

Many homes have been destroyed, defaced or otherwise damaged.

The United Nations says violence is still rampant across the country, with killings worsening in October.

In a monthly report released by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq, it said 1,792 people were killed in violence in Iraq in October, up from 1,003 the previous month.

1,120 of the dead were civilians.



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