The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants are "grandsons of Satan," according to an Iraqi Christian who has seen the damage that the jihadists inflicted upon a Christian village near Mosul.
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In an interview with the BBC's Richard Galpin, Christian survivors who are trying to rebuild their lives in the wake of ISIS atrocities conveyed their shock at the destruction that the militants had left behind in their village. Basma al-Saoor, a Christian woman from Iraq, saw how the jihadists destroyed historic buildings in Karamles.
"They are the grandsons of Satan," said al-Saoor, who was visiting Santa Barbara church after going through her burnt home in another Christian village.
"This is all we have left from our house," al-Saoor told Galpin while showing him a partially burnt photo of an uncle.
Al-Saoor and her co-villagers had fled more than two years ago when ISIS took over and made them choose between converting to Islam and leaving. Most of them sought refuge in the Kurdish city of Erbil.
Now that ISIS has been driven out of the Christian village, people are trying to clean up the mess that the jihadists have left behind. Father Paul Thabet, who supervised the task, showed Galpin what happened to their main church. The militants had erased all symbols of Christian faith both in and outside the building, the statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary were decapitated, and the altar and tomb were desecrated.
Father Thabet said true forgiveness could not be achieved unless the perpetrators of the violence in the region would be brought to justice. The Iraqi priest suspects that some of the local Sunni Muslims had supported or joined ISIS, which raises the issue of broken trust between Muslims and Christians.
Meanwhile, a sectarian political dispute has erupted in Baghdad when Shiite leaders legalized the Iranian-backed paramilitary groups called Popular Mobilization forces. The issue has slowed down efforts to reunite the people of Iraq as the battle for Mosul rages on, since many Sunnis have accused the paramilitaries of acts of abuse when their territories were recaptured, Reuters reports.
So far, a fourth of Mosul has already been retaken by U.S.-led forces in the eastern part. Major General Najm al-Jubbouri, an army commander, said liberating the western part of Mosul could be a more dangerous mission.