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 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 family of two Pakistani Christian teenagers, who were gang-raped at gunpoint in the Punjab Province by four Muslim men, is saying that they are being threatened by influential people in their village and warned not to press charges against the attackers.
The father of the two victims, Ilyas Masih, told police that his daughters, 16-year-old Sehrish and 14-year-old Farzana, went outside of their house in the village of Jaranwala during the middle of the night on Dec. 3 to go to the bathroom, since there are no bathrooms inside the house. But when the girls went outside, they did not return. The family began to frantically worry and filed a missing person's complaint with the local police, in which a search was launched to find them.
The two teens were found the next afternoon laying unconscious along the side of the road several miles away from their home village. The girls were taken to a hospital and later told police that a well-known local landlord and three other men had taken them at gunpoint, took them away and raped them. more >>
The controversial nonprofit group Invisible Children, which produced two influential documentaries that helped heighten awareness of the abduction and use of children as soldiers by the Lord's Resistance Army in the Ugandan civil conflict, has announced that it will officially close down by the end of 2015.
The organization is most notable for the 30-minute "Kony 2012" documentary, which called for the arrest of LRA leader Joseph Kony and also called for greater U.S. involvement against the LRA. The documentary, which went viral on YouTube when it was published in March of 2012, received over 100 million views in a matter of five days and helped raise more than $30 million for their cause.
The organization's CEO, Ben Keesey, announced in a recent video statement that the group has had difficulty maintaining funding and it's no longer viable for the organization to continue operating at its current levels. more >>