Some members of the Iraqi Christian minority community are seeking to establish an autonomous territory in their historical homeland in northern Iraq’s Nineveh Plain region after the city of Mosul is liberated from the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and the jihadist group is defeated, reports Al-Monitor.
“We cannot live as we used to live until [ISIS] is eliminated and Mosul is declared liberated,” Dr. Soory Maqdassy, an Iraqi Christian, told the Washington, D.C.-based publication. “We must have an autonomous region in the Nineveh Plain, in the north and south of it.”
“Iraq is constructed on Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish components, and the product of it has become the cleansing of our population from the Nineveh Plain with the arrival of Daesh [ISIS] and the declaration of the Islamic state,” he added. “We cannot trust Baghdad or [Iraqi Kurdistan capital] Erbil anymore. We need to have an autonomous region in the Nineveh Plain, after the liberation of Mosul.”
Sami Supania, another Iraqi Christian, “was nodding to every word Maqdassy uttered as if to emphasize once again the common position of the Christian minority of Iraq,” notes Al-Monitor.
In September, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), who led the effort to persuade his fellow lawmakers to officially recognize the ISIS atrocities against Christians and other minorities as genocide, introduced a bipartisan resolution to establish a province in the Nineveh Plain for Christians and the other indigenous people of the region.
The resolution “follows on the government of Iraq’s own initiative to create a province in the Nineveh Plain region, with the goal of restoring the ancestral homeland of so many suffering peoples. The European Parliament last week passed a similar resolution,” he told Breitbart News this week.
Joe Rosenberg, a bestselling author and Middle East expert, explains that the Iraqi government has expressed a desire to create a new province that would include the Nineveh Plain and “would specifically serve as a safe haven for Iraqi Christians, Yazidis and other minorities.”
ISIS’ defeat in and around the Christian lands in northern Iraq appears imminent.
The World Watch Monitor (WWM), an organization that covers Christian persecution across the globe, reports that the Cross, described as a “symbol of Christ’s victory over evil,” has returned to the Christian villages in the Nineveh Plain after ISIS banned it.
“There were tears, soldiers praying, priests singing. This was the moment thousands of Iraqi Christians had been waiting for,” adds WWM.
A U.S.-backed force of tens of thousands of Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), Kurdish Peshmerga troops, Sunni tribesmen, Christian fighters, and Shiite militiamen, many backed by Iran, are participating in an offensive to liberate Mosul from ISIS, which started on October 17.
The advancing U.S.-backed Iraqi force and their allies have reportedly liberated many Christian districts and villages in Iraq.
“As soon as it was remotely safe, the priests got into a car and were escorted back to their villages. In Christian villages like Karamles and Qaraqosh — half an hour’s drive east of Mosul — they were among the first non-combatants to return now [that] the villages have been liberated from IS occupation,” reports WWM.
Earlier this week, Breitbart News learned that political and religious leaders from the Chaldean Syriac Assyrian community in Iraq have agreed to integrate all their Christian militias under the same leadership in an effort to completely seize and secure their homeland, the Nineveh Plain, located outside Mosul in the northern Iraqi province of Nineveh.
ISIS jihadists conquered the Nineveh Plain and the Christian lands surrounding it when it stormed Iraq in 2014. Christians in the country, along with other ethno-religious minority groups, have since been victims of genocide at the hands of the terrorist group. Tens of thousands of Christians have been displaced.
Nineveh province was once home to the largest concentration of Christians and other ethno-religious minorities in Iraq, such as the Yazidis. Mosul, also located in the province, was once considered the heartland of the Iraqi Christian community.
Although the Christians are not the only indigenous people of the Nineveh Plain, they are one of the oldest.
“The Nineveh Plain, south and north, has been an extraordinary region for all the minority faiths only to be found on the territory of Iraq, from Christians to Sabians, from Shabeks to Yazidis,” Dr. Maqdassy told Al-Monitor. “They lived in coexistence throughout history. However, unfortunately, after 2003 — the so-called liberation of Iraq — both the Baghdad central government and the Kurdish government in Erbil overlooked and undermined us and did not respect minority rights.”