Macron promises support for Christians in former IS bastion in Iraq

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29 August 2021, Iraq, Mosul: French President Emmanuel Macron (C) visits al-Nuri mosque, where the Islamic State caliphate was proclaimed in 2014. The UNESCO is reconstructing the 12th century-built Al-Nuri mosque and its Al-Hadba Minaret, which were damaged in 2017 during the battle against the Islamic State in Mosul, as part of three reconstruction projects funded by the United Arab Emirates to restore the landmarks of the old town of Mosul. Photo: Ismael Adnan/dpa
29 August 2021, Iraq, Mosul: French President Emmanuel Macron (C) visits al-Nuri mosque, where the Islamic State caliphate was proclaimed in 2014. The UNESCO is reconstructing the 12th century-built Al-Nuri mosque and its Al-Hadba Minaret, which were damaged in 2017 during the battle against the Islamic State in Mosul, as part of three reconstruction projects funded by the United Arab Emirates to restore the landmarks of the old town of Mosul. Photo: Ismael Adnan/dpa

French President Emmanuel Macron on Sunday visited the Iraqi city of Mosul, a former Islamic State bastion that has come to symbolize the destruction from the war against the terrorist group.

He assured the Christian minority in the city of France’s continued support, among other things in the reconstruction of buildings that were destroyed.

France is committed to the plurality found in the Middle East, added Macron, who was accompanied by Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein, according to Iraqi state news agency INA.

UNESCO, which has been engaged in reconstruction projects since 2018, welcomed Macron’s visit. With the help of the EU, the United Arab Emirates and others, Mosul will rise from the rubble, it said.

Islamic State fighters took control of Mosul in 2014, prompting many Christians to flee out of fear that they could face death. With the help of an international coalition, Iraqi forces recaptured the city between 2016 and 2017.

Nowadays, between 200,000 and 590,000 Christians live in Iraq, according to church and aid organization estimates. At the end of the 1980s, that number was around 1.4 million.

Pope Francis made the first ever papal visit to Iraq in March.

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