Pope calls for help to prevent civilian casualties in the battle for Mosul.
Pope Francis has called for the protection of civilians in Iraq after several casualties were reported in the battle for Mosul.

The Pontiff voiced his concerns during the Wednesday Papal audience, which is hosted every week. He expressed “deep pain” for the innocent victims of the battle. He also stated he was especially concerned about the citizens who are currently trapped in the region because of the battle.

In his statement, the Pope mentioned his thoughts went out for the civilians in the western district of Mosul and to the ones displaced as a result of the war in Iraq. He added he felt united, through prayer, with the affected in their suffering.

While expressing sorrow over the matter, he further went on to make an appeal to the civil protection forces to prioritize their obligations to Iraqi civilians, referring to it as a matter of urgency.

Prior to his audience, the Pope had met with Iraqi superintendents who were representing multiple religious groups from the country such as Yazidis, Sabeans, Mandaeans, Christians, Sunnis, and Shiites. The superintendents were accompanied by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran from France, who currently serves as the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

The Pope’s statements come exactly a day after statistics indicating the need for funds to rebuild the Christian villages in Nineveh Plains, provided by Aid to the Church in Need, an international papal charity. According to the statistics, the rebuilding of the villages, which were destroyed by ISIS, will require around 200 million dollars.

At present, 90,000 displaced people live in Erbil, the Kurdish capital of Iraq. The survey states most of these displaced people prefer to move back to their home regions. These regions were invaded by ISIS in 2014.

A majority of the regions have now been freed from ISIS control. However, Mosul is one area where the fight hasn’t ended yet. In the battle for control over Mosul, American forces had recently managed to flatten a whole city block. This led to the death of around 200 civilians.

Amnesty International attributes the increase in civilian casualties to the negligence practiced by the coalition forces with regard to implementing precautionary measures.

The United Nations Human Rights Office has requested the coalition forces to minimize the threat to civilians. The UN has also reported ISIS may be using human shields and setting traps for the coalition forces.

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