An Iraqi Christian holds a cross during a mass at the Saint-Joseph church in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on July 20, 2014. AFP PHOTO / SAFIN HAMED
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Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul were wrong-footed by its new jihadist rulers, who initially left them in relative peace but later forced them to flee for their lives.Last Monday, two nuns and three orphans were released in Mosul after being held for 17 days, a development the city's Chaldean Christian Patriarch Louis Sako described as "a glimmer of hope, and a breakthrough" in relations with the city's ultraconservative Islamist leaders.Observers say ISIS' expulsion of Christians is in keeping with its proclaimed aim to create a caliphate in lands it has conquered, but that it may have waited to consolidate its hold on Mosul and other areas it had won before making a move.Elements of Saddam Hussein's disbanded socialist Baath Party, for example, which once counted Christian Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz among their number, are fighting government forces alongside ISIS and could be a moderating influence on the Islamists.
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