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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

8/8/2014 (10 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Militants were seen pulling down church crosses, burning manuscripts

ISIS overran a cluster of predominantly Christian villages alongside the country's semi-autonomous Kurdish region. Tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish fighters have since fled the area. Militants were seen pulling down church crosses and burning manuscripts.

Isis is now at the very edge of the Iraqi Kurdish territory and its regional capital, Irbil.

Isis is now at the very edge of the Iraqi Kurdish territory and its regional capital, Irbil.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/8/2014 (10 months ago)

Published in Middle East

Keywords: ISIS, Iraq, Christians, persecution


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to witnesses, the mainly Christian town of Tilkaif, as well as Al Kwair, were overrun by militants. Residents of Iraq's biggest Christian town, Qaraqosh, fled before the arrival of the Islamist fighters.

Isis is now at the very edge of the Iraqi Kurdish territory and its regional capital, Irbil.

SAVE Iraqi Christians from Genocide --


Iraqi volunteers who joined government forces to fight against Isis hold a position at a checkpoint

Iraqi volunteers who joined government forces to fight against Isis hold a position at a checkpoint in Udhaim, in the Diyala province, north of the capital Baghdad.


France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said France was "very deeply concerned by the . seizure of Qaraqoush, Iraq's biggest Christian village, and by the intolerable abuses committed." Fabius beseeched the international community to send help.

The current onslaught has pushed Iraq into its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.

A member of the Kurdish peshmerga takes his position holding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher dur

A member of the Kurdish peshmerga takes his position holding a rocket-propelled grenade launcher during an intensive security deployment against Isis.


Bishop Joseph Tomas, based in the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk, said the Isis pushed into Qaraqoush and the four surrounding hamlets of Tilkaif, Bartella, Karamless and Alqosh and was in control of them.

The raid started Wednesday night. Most Kurdish fighters had pulled out, Father Gabriel, a resident of Alqosh said. The Christians and members of other minority groups ran for their lives, with tens of thousands heading to Kurdish northern Iraq, he added.

"All Christian villages are now empty," Bishop Tomas says.

Kurdish peshmergas guard the border to prevent the attacks of armed groups led by Isis.

Kurdish peshmergas guard the border to prevent the attacks of armed groups led by Isis.


When Mosul fell into the militant hands, the ISIS gave members of the many ethnic and religious minorities an ultimatum to convert, pay a tax or leave. Those who did not obey risked death.

While the peshmerga units had initially managed to stall the militant advances, their defense dwindled in recent weeks as the ISIS group intensified efforts to expand its territory.

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had ordered the Iraqi air force earlier this week to provide aerial support to the peshmerga, in a rare show of cooperation between Baghdad and the Kurdish regional government. It was a sign of the serious nature of this crisis.

Kurdish peshmergas patrol in Mahmur.

Kurdish peshmergas patrol in Mahmur.


In Batella, one of the hamlets overrun overnight, Kurdish fighters and local Christian security guards went knocking on people's doors, urging them to leave.

The head of the Kurdish regional government, Nechirvan Barzani has urged Iraqi Kurds "not to panic but to remain calm," stay where they are and continue their "normal work and life."

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