Nearly half of IS-controlled territory in Iraq and Syria has been recaptured by allied forces, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
"The number right now in Iraq is about 45 percent of the territory they once held has been recovered. … The number in Syria is anywhere between 16 to 20 percent," said Peter Cook, press secretary for the Department of Defense, during a press briefing on Monday.
The percentages of territory lost is based off the amount of territory IS held in 2014, according to USA Today. more >>
Islamic State has declared a "state of emergency" in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the de facto capital for the terror group's self-declared Caliphate, taking seriously an announcement made by the U.S.-backed local Kurdish forces that they plan to attack the militants' stronghold.
Leaders of Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, IS and Daesh, took the decision to intensify security measures and deploy hundreds of militants around Raqqa to guard the city from a possible attack by troops of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, according to ARA News.
"The group has moved its security headquarters to confidential locations inside Raqqa, beside deploying hundreds of fighters in the city suburbs," the news website quoted an anonymous local media activist as saying. more >>
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, a house church leader from the Church of Iran denomination, and his wife, who were re-arrested as part of a series of raids targeting around 10 Christian homes last week, have been released, but three other Christians are still in custody, according to U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
Officials from the Ministry of Intelligence of the Islamic Republic of Iran arrested Pastor Nadarkhani, his wife, Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani, and fellow church member Yasser Mosayebzadeh during a raid on the house church leader's home on Friday. Officials also separately raided the homes of Saheb Fadaie and Mohammadreza Omidi (Youhan), seized their Bibles, computers and mobile phones and arrested them, CSW says in a report.
Mosayebzadeh, Fadaie and Youhan are still in custody. more >>
Pastor Yousef Nadarkhani, a house church leader from the Church of Iran denomination who was acquitted of apostasy in 2012 after being sentenced to death by hanging, was arrested once again, this time along with his wife and a church member, by Iranian authorities on Friday, according to U.K.-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide.
"We are deeply concerned by these developments and await further clarification regarding the reasons for these arrests," CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said, referring to the arrest of the 37-year-old pastor, his wife Tina Pasandide Nadarkhani and fellow church member Yasser Mosayebzadeh.
Pastor Nadarkhani was released from prison in September 2013 following his acquittal of leaving Islam by a court in Rasht in northern Gilan Province. The court, however, sentenced him to three years for evangelizing Muslims, but since he had been in jail for three years, he was released after posting bail. more >>
Days after Tyrese Gibson proclaimed on social media that he went to a mosque to learn how to "properly pray" to God, the actor is assuring fans that he still considers himself to be a Christian.
On Sunday, the Black Rose singer and "Fast and the Furious" actor took to social media to share a picture of himself praying inside a mosque in Qatar, a country that for 14 centuries banned Christians from practicing their faith.
"My first visit ever to a grand mosque my heart [has] been beating so fast and I felt vulnerable just by walking inside — I was given my first course on HOW to properly pray and I truly feel blessed," the 37-year-old entertainer wrote. "Shout to all of the believers around the world. Inshallah my visions will be blessed for the Middle East." more >>
On Sunday, some religious denominations will celebrate Pentecost, and while many people only know so much of it as the commemoration of the Holy Spirit's coming to Jesus' followers in the early days, there are actually some very interesting facts about the said holy day.
In the King James Bible, the story of Pentecost is accounted in the Book of Acts Chapter 1. In verses 1-4, it reads: "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
According to Patheos, Pentecost came from the Greek word "pentekostos," meaning "fifty." While Pentecost was originally a harvest festival and was turned into a day that remembers Moses' reception of the 10 Commandments on Mt. Sinai, it later became a special day known by many today as one that commemorates the Holy Spirit's coming upon Jesus' first followers. more >>