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12/11/2020 Iraq (International Christian Concern) – This week marks the three-year anniversary since Iraq declared ISIS militarily defeated in the country and that all territories previously held by ISIS were liberated. These territories were captured in 2014 when ISIS swept across the territory, seizing Mosul as its capitol. Mosul is the administrative center for the Nineveh Governorate, which historically has the country’s highest amount of religious diversity. ISIS subsequently conducted a genocide targeting Christians and Yezidis.

The 2017 defeat of ISIS is celebrated as a national holiday throughout Iraq. The Islamic extremists have not regrouped as many feared, although attacks continue and there is concern that the pandemic may have given them an opportunity to re-strategize. Many of their victims remain concerned about the civilian acceptance of ISIS during the years of genocide. How can I now trust my neighbor? is a common question. This lack of community trust makes it hard for victims to rebuild their lives.

The defeat of ISIS also came at the cost of strengthening PMF militias, who are repeatedly accused of human rights violations by many international bodies. These militias have also forced demographic change. For example, the city of Bartella used to be a Christian town before ISIS. Today, it is controlled by the militia and predominately home to the Shabak, who are Shia Muslim.

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