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NINEVEH CHRISTIANS REBUILD THEIR HOMES, BUT THREATS REMAIN IN IRAQ: With towns and cities such as Qaraqosh and Bashiqa in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains now liberated from Islamic State (IS) forces and their original inhabitants beginning to return, there is confidence among some local Christian leaders that life is slowly beginning to get back to normal.

“I am optimistic, yes, very optimistic,” says Qaraqosh’s Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche. “When you look around the villages you see that life is back again.”

A drive through Qaraqosh proves his point. A young boy cycles by, carrying a plastic bag full of bread, while Arabic graffiti on the wall of a house in Bashiqa burnt down by retreating IS forces reads: “Tomorrow will be more beautiful.”

The return of Nineveh’s Christians is most visible in Qaraqosh. About 1,500 families – more than 20% of the total Christian population before IS came – have now gone back. A local priest, Fr. George, has helped facilitate the return through a Centre for Support and Encouragement, a project based in Nineveh’s liberated towns to help returnees who fled the IS invasion.

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NINEVEH CHRISTIANS REBUILD THEIR HOMES, BUT THREATS REMAIN IN IRAQ: With towns and cities such as Qaraqosh and Bashiqa in Iraq’s Nineveh Plains now liberated from Islamic State (IS) forces and their original inhabitants beginning to return, there is confidence among some local Christian leaders that life is slowly beginning to get back to normal.“I am optimistic, yes, very optimistic,” says Qaraqosh’s Syriac Catholic Archbishop Yohanna Petros Mouche. “When you look around the villages you see that life is back again.”A drive through Qaraqosh proves his point. A young boy cycles by, carrying a plastic bag full of bread, while Arabic graffiti on the wall of a house in Bashiqa burnt down by retreating IS forces reads: “Tomorrow will be more beautiful.”The return of Nineveh’s Christians is most visible in Qaraqosh. About 1,500 families – more than 20% of the total Christian population before IS came – have now gone back. A local priest, Fr. George, has helped facilitate the return through a Centre for Support and Encouragement, a project based in Nineveh’s liberated towns to help returnees who fled the IS invasion.