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Archbishop of Mosul Says Over 600 Assyrian Families Have Returned
By Rose Gamble

The Syriac Catholic Archbishop of Mosul, has said that more than 600 families that have returned to their homes on northern Iraq's Nineveh Plains.

Archbishop Petros Mouche told charity, Aid to the Church in Need, that the liberation of the western part of the Nineveh Plains, including Mosul, from IS was "a sign of hope for us Christians."

He added: "Some have found work or started restaurants, shops and trade businesses. It takes a lot of courage to start from scratch again."

Archbishop Mouche said: "For us Syriac Catholic Christians in Iraq, liberation is of course a cause for great joy because the vast majority of my diocese was staying in the environs of Mosul and in Qaraqosh."

Syriac Catholics made up 60 per cent of 150,000 Christians and others forced to flee to Erbil from the Nineveh Plains and Mosul due to IS violence.

Despite the destruction, the Iraqi archbishop spoke of a "great hope that life will begin all over again".

He added: "We have to be able to live together. We are all sick of war. Wars have been fought in Iraq off and on since 1958. We have to learn how to live in peace."

The Archbishop's comments come as the Vatican ordered the closure of eight churches in Baghdad, "after nearly seven years of low or no attendance". International Christian Concern has reflected that, "while this makes logistical sense, it represents a symbolic defeat for the Church in Iraq's capital".

The number of Christians in Iraq today is probably as few as 300,000, down from 1.5 million before the 2003 US-led invasion.

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