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He said: “A few days ago the Iraqi air force began bombing in Mosul, and the air raids are increasing each day in intensity. Yesterday the roads that cross the Nineveh Plain were full of convoys of cars with Muslim families fleeing from Mosul to Erbil and Iraqi Kurdistan”.

The airstrikes continue to empty the city of civilians, while militants continue to control the districts and incursions by armed groups in churches are registered. Between yesterday and the day before yesterday Archbishop Nona said, “armed groups raided the Syriac Orthodox Church of St Ephrem and the Syrian Catholic Church dedicated to St Paul. The raid lasted about ten minutes, and the cross at the altar has been removed from the Syrian Orthodox Church”.

In the early days after the fall of Mosul in the hands of insurgents, Muslim groups had presided over the churches to prevent looting.

Two nuns and three orphans were kidnapped in Mosul on 28 June. Efforts to obtain their immediate release have so far not been successful. Meanwhile, in the cities and villages in the Nineveh Plain there is no electricity and water supplies are starting to create humanitarian emergencies among the population, partly due to the hot weather that is affecting the region.

The whole area of the Plain, up to a few tens of kilometers from Mosul, is now under Kurdish military control. But the Kurdish Peshmerga militia do not manifest plans to coordinate with the Iraqi government troops. Several analysts speculate an unwritten pact of non-aggression between Kurds and Sunni insurgents: a possible break-up of Iraq would encourage the project of independence which has always been cherished by the Kurds in northern Iraq. For this reason Kurdish leaders now have a tacit convergence of interests with the jihadists, who in turn, in their rapid advance in the Iraqi territory, could count on the support of the Sunni tribes linked to Baath, Saddam Hussein’s Party, whose network was ousted after the fall of the regime.



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