Iraqi Christians still reluctant to return despite ISIS' nearing defeat

The Islamic State is nearing its defeat in Iraq, but many Christians are still reluctant to return to their homes, and there are also others who think that they will never be able to come back and rebuild their lives there.

(REUTERS / Alaa Al-Marjani)Smoke rises from clashes in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq June 27, 2017.

Muslim-majority towns in Iraq have started rebuilding, but few have done so in Qaraqosh and other Christian cities in the country. Many of them fear that another militant group will overrun their hometown and the same things could happen again, Newsweek detailed.

"The future in Iraq is full of ambiguity," Shema, who currently lives in an Erbil refugee shelter, shared. "After ISIS is gone, there may be another group that is even worse."

ISIS systematically destroyed Qaraqosh and left the town in utter disrepair. Beth Nahrin National Union president Yousif Yaqoub said terrorists made sure that all houses in Christian places were destroyed to send a message.

There are other Muslim-majority towns that have suffered worse damage than Qaraqosh, and yet, they have already been rebuilt months after ISIS was driven out. One example is Wadi Hajar in western Mosul whose shops were repainted just a month after it was retaken from the militants.

In the last couple of months, a number of Qaraqosh's former residents started returning, but most of them opted to stay away since they feared they would not be protected by the law. The more than 50,000 population of the Christian city has now been reduced to just 180 families.

Meanwhile, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon declared on June 29 that the battle for Mosul was coming to an end. Sources told the Mirror that ISIS was already losing territory in Mosul and Raqqa and that 70 percent of their former stronghold in Iraq and 51 percent in Syria have been retaken.

"Three years on from when Daesh declared its so-called caliphate in Mosul, this evil death cult faces its endgame in the city," Fallon said. "In Syria, there is now irreversible momentum and progress towards Daesh's defeat in Raqqa, with the Syrian Democratic Forces already controlling nearly 15% of the city."

The reported liberation of the large swathes of territory from ISIS could imply that four million Iraqis and Syrians have already been released from the clutches of the extremists.