Chaldean Patriarch Visits Liberated Assyrian Towns: 'It is Our Holy Land'
His Beatitude Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, with his auxiliary Bishop Basileo Salim Yado visited the five Christian towns of the Nineveh Plain already released in the concerted military operations that aim at reconquering Mosul, the northern-Iraqi city, that has become since June 2014, a stronghold of the self-styled jihadist Islamic State (Daesh).
They visited the towns of Bartella, Karmles, Qaraqosh, Teskof, Baqofa and Btnaya whose inhabitants - mostly Christians - had fled before the advancing of the jihadist militias, and are still living as refugees in Iraqi Kurdistan. During the visit -- report sources of the Patriarchate, consulted by Agenzia Fides - the Primate of the Chaldean Church met with the generals of the army troops and federal police and the Peshmerga troops engaged in the offensive on Mosul.
During this visit, the Patriarch visited some churches and saw the great destruction in most of these towns by Daesh, who burned churches and desecrated them in breaking crosses, statues and writing phrases calling for hatred. In every church His Beatitude said a prayer for the return of peace and stability in these regions.
Through his visit, the Primate of the Chaldean Church wanted to send a message to everybody that these towns were once inhabited by Christians, hoping that they are determined to return soon to the cities of the Nineveh Plain, defined by the Patriarch "our Holy Land".
Louis Raphael I also re-launched the proposal to declare the year 2017 the "Year of Peace in Iraq", promoted and supported by Churches and Christian communities through moments of ecumenical prayer, workshops, and a variety of activities in order to promote a "culture of peace and harmonious coexistence" in the Country battered by sectarian strife.