In the back and forth battles between ISIS and the various militias and the Iraqi National Army, troops of the NPU (Nineveh Plain Protection Unit) Christian militia have liberated the northern Iraqi city of Baghdeda (also known as Qaraqosh), once home to 50,000 Middle Eastern Christians.
As reported by the human rights-minded Clarion Project, militiamen of the NPU hoisted a huge cross in a very public place of prominence in Beghdeda. As reported;
The Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU), a Christian militia in Iraq, is celebrating the hoisting up of a new cross in the destroyed city of Qaraqosh (also known as Baghdeda) that once had 50,000 Christians living there.
The event heralded the opening of a new chapter in the city and, hopefully, for the Christians and other victims of Islamist genocide in Iraq.
The NPU thanked a French organization named “SOS Chretiens Orient” (SOS Eastern Christians) that sponsored the cross and the rebuilding of homes in the area. I took a tour of one NPU member’s home in this city in January, a video of which can be seen here.
Those I met expressed that their churches and homes may have been destroyed, but their faith is stronger and they are determined to return and fill the church pews more than they did before. The excitement is palpable on the NPU’s social media, with Easter holiday celebrations taking place again and preparations being made for the Christians who will soon return.
Also cited is that the NPU seeks an eventual quasi-independent “province for these (Christian and Yazidi) minorities in the Nineveh Plains that is separate from the Kurdish Regional Government that rules northern Iraq.”
Earlier this year, four representatives of Iraq’s ancient Christian heritage – the Syriac Catholics, Syriac Orthodox and Chaldean Catholics – met earlier this year at the offices of the Chaldean Archdiocese of Erbil, the capital of Kurdish northern Iraq, as reported by the Assyrian Christian-centered Ankawa.com news service.
Pledging solidarity in a massive rebuilding program for the hundreds of thousands of Christians of the Nineveh Plain either displaced or suffered under jihadist barbarism since the ISIS invasion, the following hierarchy pledged mutual support; Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche of Mosul, Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Nicodemus Daoud Matti Sharaf of Mosul, Kirkuk and Kurdistan, and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Timothaeus Mosa Alshamany, Prior of the Monastery of Saint Matthew, and Chaldean Catholic Bishop Mikha Pola Maqdassi of Alqosh.
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As cited, according to the Catholic Charity, Aid to the Church, the cost of repairing the approximately 12,000 homes destroyed by ISIS will cost a whopping $200 million (£160 million).
Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Alshamany noted the initiative’s historic importance – both in terms of ecumenical cooperation and for offering to the thousands of refugee Christians the chance to come home.
“Today we are truly a united Church – Syriac Orthodox, Chaldean and Syriac Catholic – united in the work of rebuilding these houses on the Nineveh Plains and in restoring hope to the hearts of the inhabitants of these villages and inviting those who have left them to return.”
Syriac Catholic Archbishop Mouche also emphasized the ecumenical dimension of the NRC.
“I would like to invite the Christians of the Nineveh Plains to return to their homes and resume living in their villages, in order to bear witness to Christianity.
“Today we join together to demonstrate that we are united in our wish to accelerate this operation as rapidly as possible, and that it must start as soon as possible.”