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6/3/2024 Iraq (International Christian Concern) — This week marks the 10th anniversary of the Islamic State group (ISIS) capturing Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s second-largest province, Nineveh.

As the city recovers and rebuilds today with incredible resiliency, only about 50 Christian families live in the city that just two decades ago was filled with hundreds of thousands of Christians. 

“The city is in great need of Christians to come and help rebuild the city and seek the peace of the broader Nineveh region,” an ICC staffer said. “The city is ready for new beginnings, and Christians have an opportunity to do that with a greater sense of freedom and security than has been possible for more than two decades.”

In June 2014, ISIS swept into Mosul, rapidly taking over the city from the Iraqi military. The city was once a rich tapestry of ethnic and religious co-existence, with the majority Sunni community joined by Shite Muslims, Yazidis, and Christians.

Like many cities across Iraq, Mosul was plagued by sectarian violence during the Iraqi civil war following the U.S. invasion of the country in 2003. Al-Qaida groups specifically attacked churches, Christian businesses, and buses filled with Christians with targeted bombings. The sectarian conflict was so intense that some of the city’s Sunni residents saw the first months of ISIS’s control of their city as a liberation from the heavy-handed Shiite majority government forces. 

For Mosul’s persecuted Christian community — one of the world’s oldest Christian communities — ISIS’s entry brought another level of dread. Thousands of Christians fled to the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and ISIS marked Christian properties with the Arabic letter “ن” or “N,” used as a derogative term for Christians. Believers were forced to choose between fleeing and losing their properties or submitting to the “jizya” tax and being subject to the extremist group’s Sharia. 

During ISIS’s rule, Mosul became the Iraqi capital of the Islamic State. Great horrors of slavery markets and oppression still loom over the dark history of the past decade. The battle for its liberation from ISIS in 2017 constitutes what historians consider the fiercest urban battle since World War II.

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