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 >>
Christians in Mosul city in northern Iraq are fleeing en masse with others, as militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, who captured the city last week, are now looting and burning churches and forcing all women to wear the Islamic veil.
Assyrian International News Agency reports that the Sunni group ISIS – also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – has gone on a rampage, looting and burning government buildings, raising its black flag and burning churches throughout Mosul, the capital of the Nineveh Province.
Men from ISIS, an offshoot of al-Qaeda in Iraq that was formed last April, have bombed an under-construction Armenian church in a Left Bank neighborhood near al-Salaam hospital, the agency says, adding that the Church of the Holy Spirit has also been looted. more >>
Pastor Joel Hunter of Northland, A Church Distributed, who is President Barack Obama's spiritual adviser, has recently returned from a trip to Iran where he spoke with officials and called for the release of Pastor Saeed Abedini, an American citizen.
"One of our main goals in this trip was to create such a different environment which would include giving more leeway to different religions. Now that we have this connection, we were able to discuss these prisoners, specifically in regard to Pastor Saeed Abedini," Hunter said, according to BBC Persia, as translated by the American Center for Law and Justice.
"It was because of this dialogue that we were able to ask the Iranian government for clemency for him and we were able to bring this up with the right person and in the right environment. This opportunity was provided to us by the Iranians themselves and it did not happen because of any pressure from us." more >>
Editor's Note: The following is a Christian Post exclusive op-ed by Dale Brantner, president and CEO of CURE International. CURE International has a hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.
I understand President Obama's reasoning for announcing the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by the end of 2016.
And I respectfully disagree. more >>
Christians are among half a million people who are fleeing their homes after Islamic extremists took control of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, earlier this week.
"What we are living and what we have seen over the last two days is horrible and catastrophic. The priory of Mar Behnam and other churches fell into the hands of the rebels this morning ... and now they have come here and entered Qaraqosh five minutes ago, and we are now surrounded and threatened with death ... pray for us," Fr. Najeeb Michaeel, a Dominican priest wrote from Mosul on Tuesday.
BBC News reported that jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq group, which is affiliated al-Qaeda, overran Mosul and much of the Nineveh province, also taking Baiji, where the country's largest oil refinery is located. more >>
Christians and religious minorities face a "unique" form of religious freedom restrictions in Saudi Arabia, a persecution watchdog group says, noting that not a single church is allowed to exist in the country.
"Not a single church or other non-Muslim house of worship exists in the country," says Bandar al-Aiban, the director of the Saudi National Human Rights commission. Churches are not allowed to exist "because the entire country is a 'sacred mosque' for Islam's holiest shrines in Mecca and Medina."
International Christian Concern has highlighted the extent of the restrictions in Saudi Arabia, which is officially an Islamic state, and the consequences they have on the millions of Christians, who are mostly foreign workers, living there. more >>