Christians forced out of their homes by marauding Islamic State (ISIS) jihadis can never return as terrorists have bred a new generation of child radicals, a vicar has warned.
And as the Battle for Mosul reaches its final stages some Christians have attempted to return to the city.
But a vicar, whose church 50 miles away in Erbil cares for hundreds of Christian families who left their homes, has warned a huge danger remains.
Father Daniel said the terror cult’s destructive ideology has already spread to the next generation, sparking fears ISIS will continue their chilling campaign to boot Christians out of the Middle East.
“It would be very hard for children here and children in Mosul to get together. Can they even get along together as two groups? Could they adapt to each other? We really need to work with the children in Mosul to change what ISIS has implanted there.”
ISIS has long used children in Iraq and Syria as it aims to eradicate Christians from the region.
Children, dubbed the Caliphate Cubs, armed with knives and guns have appeared in propaganda videos featuring executions.
Father Daniel, who left his Iraqi village when ISIS invaded, works with Christian children devastated by the trauma of ISIS, who tortured and killed their loved ones.
He warns education could be their only weapon against the jihadis and their young supporters with children once terrorised by the group now starting to work against ISIS.
Father Daniel said: “I told them get your education and use that as a weapon against ISIS. School is seven years to 18 years. The older ones are starting to work as volunteers helping the ones who are coming in now to Erbil from the latest troubles in Mosul.
Father Daniel says Christians in the region have long worried for their future with his church struggling to cope with the influx of fleeing families.
He said: “Before it was difficult for Christians because after Saddam was taken out from authority everything went from bad to worse and Christians were persecuted by extremists after 2003.
“Christians in Mosul were targets for terrorists so life was really bad then. ISIS came and they purged Christians from Mosul so many fled to places like Erbil. The Christians that stayed in Mosul under ISIS control – were beaten punished and killed. Christians were given three options, pay a heavy tax, leave the city or face public execution.
“I was in Erbil when ISIS rose up. The church was not prepared for the number of fleeing people they had to receive, people who were forced leave their homes but they rallied round and the church buildings provided shelter so people stayed on the floor of churches. Gradually the church provided tents, cabins and now rents houses for people. It’s very important for people to have dignity and to live in a place that allows them to continue a decent life.
“The church was helping them and guiding, sometimes comforting – they had lost everything and were really traumatised so we comforted them then helped them and guided them so we worked with their trauma to heal them and bring families together and bring unity to help them move forward.”
As the church attempts to repair the broken families left in ISIS’ wake, Iraqi government forces are moving steadily towards Mosul’s Grand Mosque after taking control of the bridge leading to the ISIS-held Old City.
Losing the city would be a huge blow to ISIS as it has served as the group’s de facto capital since its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself head of a caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria from the Grand Mosque in the summer of 2014.