Exactly three years since Mosul was taken by the so called IS Islamic state terror group (DAESH), Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako was able to return to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul visiting churches and monasteries recently retrieved by government forces from IS Islamic terror group domination, including areas to the left of the Tigris River. The Patriarch was accompanied by Archbishop Ramzi Garmou — head of the Chaldean Arch-Eparchy of Teheran , Bishop Habib al Nawfali , head of the Chaldean diocese of Bassora — and Basel Salim Yaldo, Chaldean Auxiliary of Baghdad. The Chaldean delegation was also joined by political officials of the Nineveh province . The Chaldean Patriarch and those accompanying him visited various churches in that part of Mosul including the Holy Spirit Chaldean church, a Chaldean monastery dedicated to Saint George, the Syrian Orthodox church of Saint Ephraim and the Syrian Catholic church of the Annunciation, all sacked and partly demolished during the Jihadist occupation. Among the ruins the Patriarch, the bishops and those accompanying them stopped to pray together (see photo).
During their visit the Chaldean Patriarch and Bishops, had a meeting with Major General Najim Abdullah al Juburi, of the Iraki army who is leading the present Mosul liberation campaign. Speaking with the Patriarch and the Bishops the Major General said he hoped for a swift return home of Christians of Mosul, who fled when the city fell into the hands of the Jihadists and he added “without its Christians the city would lose its original character and identity “. The Major General confirmed that the Iraqi army is committed to protecting towns and villages in the Nineveh plains, and guaranteeing the return of the people, mainly Christians, living there when DAESH arrived . The Patriarch stressed the need to protect the property of evacuated Christians who at this delicate time risk being illegally expropriated by organized groups, often armed, acting uncontrolled in the area.
During their visit, amply documented by the official Chaldean Patriarchate Media and by ISHTAR TV, the Chaldean Patriarch and the Bishops saw for themselves that normality is gradually returning in the areas of Mosul liberated from the control of the Jihadists, although artillery shooting can still be heard coming from urban areas on the left bank of the Tigris, where the battle between the Iraqi army and DAESH forces continues.