MOSUL, Iraq -- Iraqi forces are going house-to-house in Mosul, trying to push out ISIS and allow civilians to return to their homes.
The Iraqi town has been the focus of extensive fighting since October, and as CNN's Ben Wedeman reports, even with battle raging, some people are returning to the city in an attempt to restart the way of life ISIS destroyed.
A small flock returned for Mass in the charred ruins of the Church of Mary the Immaculate in Qaraqosh, near Mosul. ISIS set fire to the church, smashed its crosses and statues, and used its courtyard as a firing range.
"We expected everything in Qaraqosh: theft, damage and destruction," he said. "But arson, for us, is a message, a threatening message, that the idea of ISIS is still here in this region, and that's what we fear."
Before ISIS took over this town in the summer of 2014, more than 60,000 people called it home. Now, months after it was liberated, only a handful have returned. Without electricity and running water, without help to get life moving again, most residents are hesitant to return.
Businessman Tawfiq Saqar moved back two months ago, and showed a list of everything ISIS looted from his businesses. He says the central government has not restored power or water, and is completely neglecting Christians in the area.