ISIS driven back as offensive edges closer to Mosul

Church bells are ringing again in Bashiqa on the outskirts of Mosul as Peshmerga forces drive Islamic State militants back, and close in on the city itself.

MOSUL (REUTERS) - The sound of church bells ring out in Bashiqa east of Mosul.

For some two years, it was a town under the control of the Islamic State group (ISIS).

And while the militants have now been driven out, Father Danial Benyam says the town is far from whole.

"We are sending a message to the world, asking them to look at this vast destruction. If you want Christians to remain here, you must extend a helping hand in rebuilding our areas so we can be able to return," said Father Benyam.

ISIS has targeted religious communities throughout Iraq and Syria.

When it seized control of Mosul two years ago, it issued an ultimatum to Christians: pay a tax, convert to Islam, or die.

But village by village, Iraqi and coalition forces are advancing on Mosul. 

It's a balancing act that comes with a cost - destroy the enemy, without jeopardising civilians along the way.