Some 10,000 people fled this week from predominantly Christian communities in Qaraqosh, Iraq, a neighboring city to Mosul where members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have reportedly overrun and are now viciously attacking Christians who fail to pay a poll tax.
"Community leaders say the residents of Qaraqosh fled by bus, car and taxi into northern Iraq's Kurdistan region on Wednesday night. Many are women and children. They are now staying with families, relatives and in schools and community centers. Most are in Erbil. They fled in a rush, with little time to bring belongings with them," said the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in a report Friday morning.
Qaraqosh, also known as Bakhdida, is a historic Assyrian town of 50,000 people, located approximately 30 kilometers south-east of Mosul, which is Iraq's second largest city, according to the UNHCR. more >>
Persecution watchdog Open Doors is sending food, water and humanitarian aid to close to 3,000 Christian families that have fled the Iraqi city of Mosul, which was recently taken over by Islamic extremists looking to enforce Sharia law.
"The immediate needs were very obvious – water and food," an Open Doors field worker said.
"Because many of the refugees were placed in schools or empty buildings, they were sleeping on a piece of cardboard; there were no mattresses and pillows. And with temperatures reaching 113 degrees during the day, a third need made itself known – air coolers, especially important for families with young children or the elderly." more >>
A Christian father who watched his wife and daughter get brutally raped by members of the militant group, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) because he couldn't pay them a poll tax in Mosul, Iraq, killed himself under the weight of the trauma this past weekend.
A report from the Assyrian International News Agency said ISIS began enforcing Islamic laws in the northern Iraq city which they overran on June 10.
Dr. Sallama Al-Khafaji of the Iraq High Commission for Human Rights said the incident happened on Saturday after ISIS began asking Christians in Mosul for a poll tax. more >>
Islamic militants killed at least 21 people in Baghdad and another Iraqi city on Tuesday in their offensive to capture the capital. Jihadists have also invaded Baiji, the country's largest oil refinery.
AFP News Agency reported that the violence came during a major offensive spearheaded by the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, which has already captured the city of Mosul and much of the Nineveh province.
A car bomb killed at least 11 people and wounded more than 20 in the predominantly-Shiite Muslim area of north Baghdad, while five more bombings killed a further six people and wounded 14, officials said. more >>
The U.S. is sending nearly 300 troops into Iraq to protect the American embassy in Baghdad amid escalating threats that Islamic jihadists who have captured several cities in the region could move in on the capital.
"The personnel will provide assistance to the Department of State in connection with the temporary relocation of some staff from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad to the U.S. Consulates General in Basra and Erbil and to the Iraq Support Unit in Amman," the White House said in a statement on Monday. "These U.S. military personnel are entering Iraq with the consent of the Government of Iraq. The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains open, and a substantial majority of the U.S. Embassy presence in Iraq will remain in place and the embassy will be fully equipped to carry out its national security mission. "
The approximately 275 U.S. military personnel were authorized by President Barack Obama who transmitted a report notifying Congress of the decision, which the White House says is consistent with the War Powers Resolution. more >>
Islamic militants, who have captured several cities in Iraq and are setting sights on Baghdad, have posted online photos of graphic mass killings of Iraqi soldiers. The U.S. State Department has called the claim that 1,700 Iraqi forces have been massacred "horrifying" and said that it exposes the terrorists' "blood lust."
"The claim by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant that it has massacred 1,700 Iraqi Shia air force recruits in Tikrit is horrifying and a true depiction of the blood lust that these terrorists represent," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement.
"While we cannot confirm these reports, one of the primary goals of ISIL is to set fear into the hearts of all Iraqis and drive sectarian division among its people." more >>