Just days after Iraqi forces
completed their recapture of Mosul from the Islamic State, the nation's
ambassador to the Holy See has said that they are eager to rebuild the
city and have people return home, but it will require help to do so.
“We reiterate our need for greater cooperation and greater help for
the reconstruction and stability of the freed areas, including Mosul,
because there is no complete victory until the displaced are returned to
their homes and guaranteed essential services,” Omer Ahmed Karim
Berzinji said July 13.
“The most important challenge now is the effort for the
reconstruction and the stability of the city through the construction of
infrastructures in order for the displaced to return. We have need of
international support to bring back stability and to prevent the return
of the terrorists.”
Berzinji spoke to journalists at a press conference in Rome July 13.
presser was held in response to the July 9 declaration that Mosul had
been recaptured. The government operation to free Mosul, one of the
Islamic State’s remaining key strongholds, had been underway for nine
months. The group still controls areas around the Iraqi cities of Tal
Afar, Hawija, and Al-Qa'im, as well as portions of Syria.
During this time, thousands were killed and nearly 1 million residents fled the city, the major part of it destroyed.
Fr. Ghazwan Baho, a parish priest in Alqosh – the last major
Christian city on the Plain of Nineveh not taken by the Islamic State –
told CNA they are thankful Mosul has been freed, but the future of the
city is still uncertain.
“We thank God that the evil was overcome, but Mosul is a city almost
80 percent destroyed. The future is dark. There isn't much hope of
“It's not enough to win the war, but we need to rebuild,” he said.
“We are afraid of the future, of revenge; our area is a land of
conflict. Let's hope for the best.”
The Islamic State had controlled Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city,
since June 2014. It has imposed a rigid version of sharia in territory
it controls, but its rule also features arbitrary violence, including
killing and enslavement.
A 2016 U.N. report said that 800 to 900 children in Mosul have been
abducted and put through Islamic State religious and military training.
There have been accounts of child soldiers who were killed for fleeing
fighting on the front lines of Iraq’s Anbar province.
The U.N. also estimates that as of Jan. 2016 the group held about
3,500 slaves, mainly women and children of the Yazidi religion. Some of
the women are killed for trying to escape or for refusing sexual
relations with Islamic State fighters.
The Iraq ambassador
couldn’t give specifics on the government’s plan for how to free the
women, but told CNA that it will certainly be one of their top
objectives. Regarding the Islamic State, he said he considers the
victory in Mosul the “beginning of their end.”
“I am very enthusiastic to take all of that (remaining) occupied territory,” he continued.
Another result of the battle, he told journalists, has been the
unification of the various “factions” of the Iraqi army who “joined
together for the liberation of Mosul.”
The ambassador emphasized that Iraqis worldwide are celebrating the
victory, saying that “the first thing after the liberation of Mosul, the
most important thing, was that all Iraqis were united.”
Berzinji also noted the help from outside forces, saying “friends and
allies have played a distinct role in supporting the efforts of the
Iraqi government in this battle through the intervention of the
international coalition or outside it.”
“That is why victory in Mosul is a victory for all those who have
helped and have collaborated with us in the fight against this criminal