WASHINGTON – Patriarchs from the Middle East gathered on Capitol Hill Wednesday to speak with members of Congress urging for further U.S. military aid for the new Iraqi central government and Kurdish peshmerga forces that are helping provide refuge to thousands of displaced Iraqi religious minorities being persecuted by Islamic State jihadists.
As forces from neighboring Kurdistan have helped clear paths for minorities to escape the atrocities in the Nineveh province and along with Iraqi forces look to push back Islamic State out of their strongholds, the Patriarchs said there is a need for increased military and equipment support with a great need for better weaponry.
"It seems that the Iraqi central government and the Kurdish region, they need help," said His Beatitude, Ignatius Youssef III Younan, Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch and All the East. "What you call military intervention with Air Force it will be much needed [but] those militias of the ISIS, they have plenty of weaponry and they already robbed a lot of money and they have been assisted and financed by those radicals of the gulf countries. They have the offense they need. So the Peshmerga of Kurdistan and also the Iraqi central army need military assistance." more >>
As ISIS continues to pose a menace to religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, Christians from the region have spoken with horror about what the terrorist group is doing to their communities.
Auday P. Arabo, lay spokesman for the St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Diocese, told The New York Times that Iraqi Christians are calling it "a slow-motion genocide."
The U.S. military's first series of airstrikes in Western Iraq targeting ISIS early Sunday to protect a major dam points to the expansion of the Obama administration's strategy in Iraq, which until recently was limited to protecting U.S. offices and humanitarian responses.
"If that dam would fall into ISIL's hands or if that dam would be destroyed, the damage that that would cause would be very significant and it would put an additional and big risk into the mix in Iraq," U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel told reporters during a trip to Georgia's capital Tbilisi, according to Reuters.
Hagel, who was referring to the Haditha Dam in Iraq's Anbar Province, added that the airstrikes were launched at the request of the Iraqi government. more >>
U.S. President Barack Obama announced Friday that key NATO allies are prepared to "degrade and ultimately destroy" the Islamist terror group ISIS in Iraq, after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's meeting with diplomats from 10 countries on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Wales.
"Key NATO allies stand ready to confront this terrorist threat through military, intelligence and law enforcement as well as diplomatic efforts," Obama told reporters Friday, the last day of the summit.
ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, is an al-Qaeda offshoot which has gained control over vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. Also known as the Islamic State and ISIL, the group is aiming to form an Islamic emirate in the Levant, a region also known as the Eastern Mediterranean, through "jihad." Its men have killed hundreds of people in Iraq as well as beheaded two American journalists, James Foley and Steven Sotloff. more >>
The top aide to the Islamic State's head leader was killed along with two other senior ISIS militants in an airstrike in the Ninewa province, the Iraqi Defense Ministry confirmed Thursday.
While NBC News is reporting that senior security officials confirmed that a U.S. airstrike carried out the attack, Iraqi Army General Arm Babaker Zebari claims it was an Iraqi warplane that killed the member of leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's inner circle, Abu Hajar al-Suri, in ISIS, also known as ISIL, stronghold of Tal Afar just west of Mosul.
Iraqi born pastor Jalil Dawood of the Arabic Church of Dallas, who, along with other Christian leaders will be holding a rally on Sept. 14 in support of Iraqis who are being persecuted by the Islamic State, says there are five things Americans can do today to help their brothers and sisters in Christ.
"What Americans can do today is write to their representatives and tell them the U.S. government needs to take more aggressive action toward the Islamic State, because this group is not only a threat to Iraq, it's a threat to America, eventually. And we need to deal with them now, before it's too late," Dawood told The Christian Post.
"I heard the president say last week that he doesn't have a strategy. Well, ISIS' strategy is to kill us. Their strategy is to convert us and kill us," he asserted. more >>