President Barack Obama visited U.S. troops on Christmas Day at the Marine Corps Base in Hawaii, thanking them for their service as the military operations in Afghanistan draw to a close, and honoring the birth of Christ.
"So on a day when we celebrate the Prince of Peace and many of us count our blessings, one of the greatest blessings we have is the extraordinary dedication and sacrifices you all make," Obama told the troops, according to ABC News.
"We could not be more thankful. I know I speak for everyone in the entire country when I say, we salute you." more >>
For the first time in 1,400 years, there will be no Christmas celebrations in Nineveh province, home to Iraq's largest remaining Christian community and largest non-Muslim minority, and a site of great biblical significance. This northern province, whose area is over three times larger than that of Lebanon, is now part of the Islamic State's caliphate, and its Christians and churches are no longer tolerated.
What has become of Nineveh's Christians? What will be their fate?
These should be pressing concerns for America, especially its 247 million Christians. Yet the mainstream media rarely cover this story — a New York Times reporter in a recent e-mail says it's of "limited interest," explaining that "most of our readers have only vague notions of who they are anyway and why their issues are relevant to the United States." A better explanation would be that the Times and other establishment elites are reluctant to focus on the goals, rather than just the tactics, of Islamist extremist ideology. A main goal is total Islamization — and it is on the verge of being realized in Iraq. more >>
The parents of one of the over 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Islamic terror group Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria earlier this year have expressed their "indescribable pain" at facing Christmas without their daughter.
Rebecca Yaga told CNN that she refused to believe her daughter was among those taken by Boko Haram's raid on the all-girls school in April, but the fact was confirmed on the evening news.
"Seriously, seriously, mum and her daughter. The pain is indescribable," she said. more >>
Over 1,000 ISIS fighters, as well as 52 civilians, have been killed by U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria since operations began in September, a watchdog group has announced.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 1,171 people have been killed by airstrikes, a number which includes 1,046 ISIS fighters, 72 jihadists from the Jabhat al-Nusra group, and 52 civilians, including eight children and five women who were killed by strikes on oil fields and refineries.
The real death toll is likely to be much higher, the group said, noting that the war time situation across the region makes it difficult to get accurate numbers. more >>
Islamic State militants recently executed at least 100 of their own foreign fighters in the group's Syrian stronghold of Raqqa after the fighters were caught trying to abandon the group's Syrian base, a source close to the conflict said.
The Financial Times reports that an unnamed anti-ISIS activist, who also opposes the regime of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, has confirmed that ISIS executed the foreign fighters because they attempted to desert from the jihad after ISIS released a new set of rules designed to prevent fighters from deserting.
Although many fighters from all over the world are persuaded to join the Islamic State's jihad because ISIS recruiters tell them that they will help implement the correct brand of Islam, many foreign fighters, once they actually get involved in the conflict, become disillusioned by the horrible atrocities that are actually being committed by the group and want to flee from the conflict. more >>
Although hundreds of thousands of refugees are displaced from their homes in Iraq and their futures remain uncertain due to the siege of the Islamic State, The Vicar of Baghdad wrote in an online Christmas statement that Christian refugees in Iraq have not been deterred from exhibiting joy in the only thing they have left: the unconditional of Jesus.
Writing from his new temporary home in Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, the Rev. Canon Andrew White, the only Anglican pastor in Iraq, said that even though ISIS has left these displaced Christian refugees with no homes, no clothes and, in some cases, no families, their faith remains strong in the "refugee child," Jesus.
"All you have got left is the love of that refugee child. That to us in the Middle East is all that matters this Christmas," White explained. more >>