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Iraqi Christians celebrate after military take back ISIS territory

An Iraqi military helicopter flies over the frontline near Bartella, Iraq on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2016. I (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

Iraqi Christians in Qaraqosh, south of Mosul, are celebrating after their village was liberated from Isis.

Today, Asia News reported that on Tuesday October 18, a coalition of 30 thousand men, mainly Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish Peshmerga militia began their offensive to recapture Mosul, the jihadist stronghold in Iraq, and the Nineveh Plain.

Although their recapture of Qaraqosh is not totally complete, the hundreds of Christians who fled in 2014 are already celebrating with with dancing and singing, according to video footage of refugees in a reception centre in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Others have chosen to mark the occasion by attending Mass.

The Chaldean Patriarch Mar Raphael Louis Sako has renewed his call for national unity for the success of this huge military. “We Iraqis – said the Chaldean Primate – are one in spite of our various affiliations”. He hoped that the offensive would give birth to a “genuine democracy and civilian” that is “respectful of all.”

He added: “I also urge the international community to take concrete steps in order that Iraq and the region regain their security and peace. This kind of success would be a triumph for everyone and for the international well-being.

“Finally, I pray: May God Protect us, Shorten our suffering, Preserve the purity of our human kinship and Watch over the unity of our beloved country.”

In 2014 jihadists swept through Qaraqosh where an estimated 120,000 Christians lived.

The Christian population includes Chaldean, Assyrian, Armenian and Syriac communities, once numbering more than a million nationwide, with upwards of 600,000 in Baghdad alone, but there are now fewer than 350,000 in the country.