Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have announced that they've taken the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar back from Islamic State militants in a battle months after tens of thousands of minority Yazidis had to flee their homes while others remained trapped after the town's capture by the terrorists.
The Kurd soldiers, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, Saturday reached the flanks of Mount Sinjar, which was captured by ISIS early August, with food and other aid three days after they started a major offensive against terrorists, according to Press TV.
The fighters "succeeded in taking complete control of it and nearby villages," the Kurdistan Region Security Council said in a tweet about Sinjar. more >>
Editor's note: This article is tied to a report on Yazidi immigrant Murad Ismael and NYC Pastor William Devlin's humanitarian trip to Erbil, Iraq. Read that report here: US Pastor Who Supported Meriam Ibrahim in Sudan Heads to Iraq With Yazidi Activist; Says Christians Can Pray, Give Money But Should Put Their Bodies on the Line. Also, read Ismael's account of the atrocities unfolding in Iraq under the Islamic State here: US Yazidi Returning to Iraq Amid ISIS Persecution Calls for People of All Faiths to Act.
NEW YORK — A New York City pastor traveling with a U.S. Yazidi leader to offer humanitarian assistance to religious minorities targeted by the Islamic State in Iraq believes Christians in America should do more to encourage believers living in some of the world's most persecuted countries.
The Rev. William Devlin, co-pastor of Infinity Bible Church in the Bronx borough of New York City and a former politician, is as much of an activist as he is a missionary. When the City of New York banned churches and other religious groups in 2011 from renting public schools for worship gatherings, Devlin embarked on a 42-day fast, was arrested in an act of civil disobedience, and publicly confronted then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg during an interfaith breakfast about the city's decision (which the current mayor has vowed to reverse). more >>
While U.S. officials say Islamic State, or ISIS, has been demoralized by losses it has suffered in Iraq and Syria due to ongoing American airstrikes, reports suggest that its militants are turning Christian churches into torture chambers and selling priceless artifacts in the black market.
"It [ISIS] was presenting itself as an unstoppable movement," The Guardian quotes an anonymous U.S. official as saying.
"That kind of unstoppable momentum has been blunted, to say the least. We have killed over 1,000 of their fighters, particularly in Kobani [city in Syria], and that gets to Raqqa [also in Syria] because they wanted to take Kobani and had been making the biggest flag they had ever made and they were going to put it up there because to them this is a war of flags." more >>
The Pentagon revealed on Thursday that three top ISIS leaders in Iraq have been killed in recent weeks, and argued that the American-led operation against the terror group is having a "significant impact."
Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Wall Street Journal:
"It is disruptive to their planning and command and control. These are high-value targets, senior leadership." more >>
The Islamic State has been selling artifacts from churches and other cultural centers in the nation of Iraq to fund their organization, says a British publication.
ISIS is taking antiquities, including those worth millions of dollars, from the Middle Eastern country and selling them to prospective Western buyers, according to Oliver Moody of The Times.
"Willy Bruggeman, a former deputy director of Europol who is now president of the Belgian federal police council, said that some of the artefacts had almost certainly been sold illegally to buyers in the UK, although none had yet been traced to Britain," reported Moody on Wednesday. more >>
The Pakistani army killed close to 77 Taliban members in the northwestern tribal regions of the country, days after militants stormed an army school earlier this week in Peshawar and killed 148 people, most of them children.
The offensive was confirmed by Pakistani military chief Gen. Raheel Sharif, who revealed that on Thursday, airstrikes killed 17 militants targets in the Khyber tribal region, while ground troops killed 10 fighters. Another 32 militants died on Friday in an ambush in Tirah valley near the Afghan border, according to The Associated Press.
The Taliban and the Pakistan army have fought each other in the Khyber region in recent months, with militants using the area as a hiding spot, where it is difficult to track them down. more >>