Iraq: Mosul - strengthened security, Christians asked to return

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The Iraqi army has asked those Christians who left Mosul over the past few weeks to return to the city, assuring them that security has been restored and that it has regained control of all areas. "About 350 families have already returned to their homes" said the chief of military operations in Nineveh province, gen. Riyad Jalal, during a press conference also featuring the deputy prime minister Rafi al Eissawi, adding that "the areas where the Christians are living, including the churches, are all secure thanks to the deployment of additional security forces". Yesterday, the minister for human rights, Ghanem al-Ghanem stated that Christians had stopped leaving Mosul last Wednesday, when the army started to patrol the more dangerous areas, restoring serenity among the population. UNHCR said that over the past week. Some 1560 families left Mosul after a series of attacks that largely targeted their community, causing the death of at least 12 people; the refugees - about 9400 people in total - represents almost half of the entire Christian community in Mosul, the capital of Nineveh province. [AB]