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Christians need time to rebuild trust before return to Mosul region


  • A boy carries his belongings in Mosul, Iraq, July 23. Some Iraqi Christians who are making their slow return to ancestral lands say it will take time to rebuild their lives and trust of those who betrayed them. (CNS photo/Thaier Al-Sudani, Reuters)
  • People from Mosul, Iraq, raise a wooden cross near St. Georges Monastery April 24. Some Iraqi Christians who are making their slow return to ancestral lands say it will take time to rebuild their lives and trust of those who betrayed them. (CNS photo/Omar Alhayali, EPA)
  • A destroyed building is seen in Mosul, Iraq, July 24. Some Iraqi Christians who are making their slow return to ancestral lands say it will take time to rebuild their lives and trust of those who betrayed them. (CNS photo/Stringer, EPA)

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AMMAN, Jordan (CNS) -- As some Iraqi Christians make a slow return to the region around Mosul following the defeat of the Islamic State group, many say it will take time to rebuild their lives and even longer to rebuild their trust of those who betrayed them.

"The war isn't finished yet and neither is the Islamic State. There is no stability and there is still fighting in Mosul," said Patriarch Louis Sako, head of Iraq's Chaldean Catholic Church, who visited Mosul July 20, touring churches left badly damaged during the city's three-year occupation by the extremists.

"How can Christians return when there are homes destroyed and there are no services? But most important is safety. The return of Christians needs time," Patriarch Sako warned, in remarks carried by Radio Free Europe.

Although Iraqi forces declared victory over Islamic State fighters in Mosul early in July, the patriarch said the region remains unstable, leaving Christians uncertain about their future in their historic homeland.

"Trust must be rebuilt because the Christians of this region have endured such abuse and violence, leaving deep wounds," Patriarch Sako said.

Father Emanuel Youkhana, an Iraqi priest, or archimandrite, of the Assyrian Church of the East, also warned that although Islamic State may be defeated militarily, "it doesn't mean that its mentality, ideology or culture will be ended."

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