Iraqi Christians have erected a massive cross on the outskirts of Mosul, marking liberation from ISIS.
The large cross was recently installed on a hill in Telekuf-Tesqopa, a village located 17 miles from Mosul, after the land was freed from the jihadists’ control, according to the Catholic News Agency.
The Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Baghdad, Louis Raphael Sako, visited the village on Feb. 18 to bless the new cross and partake in the first Mass after years in St. George Church. Sako said in his homily that this event is “the first spark of light shining in all the cities of the Nineveh Plain since the darkness of ISIS, which lasted almost two and a half years.”
“This is our land and this is our home,” Sako told the congregation.
Officials and authorities from the region also participated in the joyous celebrations, which included fireworks, according the Chaldean Catholic Patriarchate of Babylon.
In late 2014, Sako made an impassioned plea for the international community to take action after tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians were displaced from their homes due to systemic persecution by ISIS.
“They are facing a human catastrophe and risk a real genocide. They need water, food, shelter,” Sako said in an open letter dated Aug. 7, 2014.
— Journalist M. Fidai (@sakrific) January 28, 2017
A massive Iraqi-led coalition of forces launched an ongoing military offensive in October to retake the city of Mosul, the Islamic State group’s stronghold in Iraq. Christians in every village liberated on the Pain of Nineveh have placed wooden crosses on the roofs of homes and churches.
Muslims have participated in the celebrations, too. A group of Muslim youths helped Christians clean up a church in east Mosul last week, after the area was freed from the militants’ control, according to the Catholic News Agency.
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