Bkirki has been reportedly tasked by the Vatican to carry out direct negotiations for the return of Christians who were forced out of their homes in Syria and Iraq by the Islamic State group. Al-Liwaa daily said on Monday that a “major diplomatic breakthrough has been made by the leadership of the IS lately” after the approval of the Vatican to enter into direct negotiations with it for the purpose of taking certain measures for the return of the Christians to their cities, mainly Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul. Other steps include talks on preserving the lives of Christians in areas under the control of the IS, said al-Liwaa.


It said it received information that the Vatican tasked Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite church in Lebanon, with the mission. The fall of the Iraqi city of Fallujah in January 2014 started the IS’s dramatic blitz across Iraq. In June, the extremists captured Mosul, then swept south toward Baghdad in a march that put almost all the Sunni-majority regions of northern and western Iraq into its hands. [Link]