ISIL terrorists seize Iraq's largest Christian town

ISIL terrorists seize Iraq's largest Christian town
Thu Aug 7, 2014 20:13:32

ISIL terrorists have seized Iraq's largest Christian town and surrounding areas, sending tens of thousands of panicked residents fleeing in what has been referred to a humanitarian disaster.

The Thursday onslaught saw the Takfiri terrorists extending their rule over northern Iraq and move within striking distance of autonomous Kurdistan, in one of the most dramatic developments of the two month-old conflict.

ISIL terrorists moved into Qaraqosh and other towns overnight following the withdrawal of Kurdish peshmerga troops, who are stretched thin across several fronts, residents said.

"Qaraqosh, Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have been emptied of their original population and are now under the control of the militants," Joseph Thomas, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah said, as cited in a number of press reports.

Entirely Christian-populated Qaraqosh  lies between Mosul, the ISIL’s main hub in Iraq, and Arbil, the Kurdish region's capital. It usually has a population of about 50,000.

Tal Kayf, the home of a significant Christian community as well as members of the Shabak Shiite minority, also evacuated the town overnight.

"Tal Kayf is now in the hands of ISIL. They faced no resistance and rolled in just after midnight," said Boutros Sargon, a resident who fled and was reached by phone in Arbil.

Pope Francis urged the international community to protect Iraq's Christians, who have emigrated en masse over the past decade as a result of successive waves of violence.

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako, who heads Iraq's largest Christian denomination, said the overnight offensive had displaced 100,000 Christians.

Meanwhile, a peshmerga spokesman is further cited in press reports as saying that Kurdish forces were battling the ISIL terrorists in Qaraqosh and Al-Qosh further north, but no witnesses could corroborate his assertion.

The spokesman also said the peshmerga were fighting in Gwer, a Kurdish community south of Qaraqosh.

Over the weekend, ISIS units took over most of the Mosul hinterland which the peshmerga had occupied after government forces retreated in June.

MB/MB

string(722) "[{"id":"1620297","sort":"3241376","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/08/05/alalam_635428375904839945_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Iraq air force backs Kurds against ISIL terrorists"} ,{"id":"1616820","sort":"3241377","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/07/27/alalam_635420946038652242_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Video: Iraq forces purge village from ISIL terrorists"} ,{"id":"1618714","sort":"3241378","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/08/01/alalam_635425166230246943_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"Iraq violence kills over 1,600 in July: government figures"} ,{"id":"1617978","sort":"3241379","contenttypeid":"21","pic":"/2014/07/31/alalam_635423897546556297_25f_4x3.jpg","title":"UN Security Council voices concern about ISIL threat in Iraq"} ]"