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So last week I wished for reports from Mosul, and this week I find
MOSUL, IRAQ — With Iraqi Christians a threatened and dwindling minority, U.S. forces are safeguarding a 1,400-year-old monastery — Iraq's most ancient — for a time when peace, reconciliation and archaeological detective work can occur.And two:
St. Elijah's Monastery, with its main fortress-like structure looming atop a barren hillside, sits inside a sprawling U.S. military base.
Its bloody history makes clear why the monastery needs protection. In 2003, it was damaged during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. About 250 years earlier, it was nearly leveled by a Persian ruler who ordered its monks slain.
Below the thick-walled compound lies the embattled city of Mosul, dotted with mosques but also churches. The city, Iraq's third largest, has seen an exodus of Christians reportedly sparked by killings and intimidation from Islamic militants.
While parts of Mosul appear normal -- men dine outdoors at a kebab restaurant, shoppers browse for fruit and vegetables at a market and children playfully stroll home from school -- a few miles away, multistory buildings lie in ruins, the streets are empty and most stores are shuttered, their twisted metal facades riddled with bullet holes.So this week I'm wishing for a new car.
But the battle in Mosul, a city of 1.8 million, is not just against Al Qaeda and other extremists who continue to lay deadly mines and carry out car bombings. It also is a conflict among the nation's religious and ethnic groups for dominance as provincial elections, scheduled for January, approach.