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Iraqi Church Bells Ring Out after Being Liberated from ISIS


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For the first time in two years, Iraqi church bells rang out after liberation from ISIS rule.

Kurdish Peshmerga forces cleared out Islamic State fighters on Monday, saying the situation was under control though not yet fully secure.

Priests were escorted to St. Shmoni Church in Bashiqa and St. George Church in neighboring Bahzan, where the clergy prayed in the naves.

Once they finished praying, the church bells chimed as bomb blasts and gunfire were heard nearby.

After Monday's advance into Bashiqa, Iraqi forces fought heavy firefights with ISIS operatives over the next two days.

The offensive to take Bashiqa back from ISIS is part of a larger operation to rout the group from Mosul, according to reports.

U.S.-backed Iraqi government and Kurdish forces are said to be advancing toward the city from several directions.

A military spokesman in Makhmour said he was happy to see the Kurds and Iraqis fighting the Islamic State together.

Iraq's Christian community, one of the oldest in the world, has decreased substantially since the U.S. invasion in 2003.

There were about 1.5 million Christians in the country, but the conflict forced many to flee to other Middle Eastern countries or Europe.

According to one report, fewer than 300,000 Christians remain in Iraq.

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