News / Middle East

Iraqi Militants Take Over Christian Town

Iraqi Christians who fled the violence in the village of Qaraqosh, about 30 km east of the northern province of Nineveh, Aug. 7, 2014.
Iraqi Christians who fled the violence in the village of Qaraqosh, about 30 km east of the northern province of Nineveh, Aug. 7, 2014.
Edward Yeranian

The U.N. Security Council called an emergency meeting on Iraq, where Islamic extremists seized more northern territory Thursday.

The United States is also working to send humanitarian assistance to the war zone, but senior officials say no American military action in Iraq is under consideration.

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced by the latest fighting, in which militants from the group known as the Islamic State (formerly ISIL) captured Iraq's largest dam, a crucial source of water and electricity for millions of people in and around Mosul.

The militants also overran several predominantly Christian towns in the north.

Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
x
Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The dam provides crucial water and electricity to millions of residents in the main northern city of Mosul.  The militants overran Mosul on June 10. Kurdish forces in northern Iraq claim they still control the facility.

At the White House Thursday, President Barack Obama met with his national-security team about the growing Iraq crisis.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the Islamic fighters in northern Iraq have displayed a "callous disregard" for human rights.

Little warning

The overnight advance caught many Christian families by surprise, driving them from their homes with little warning and little chance to gather possessions.

Pope Francis appealed to the international community to help end the "humanitarian tragedy" in the country.

As Islamic State militants grabbed control of areas that had been under the protection of Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, the Kurdistan Regional Government appealed for support in its efforts to counter the extremists.

"It is now time for the international community to step forward, urgently, and provide the KRG with humanitarian assistance and military support, particularly air support," Kurdish Minister Falah Mustafa said on the KRG's website.

Islamic State

Islamic State militants stand guard after controlling a checkpoint in Khazer at the border area of the Kurdish semi-autonomous region, Aug. 7, 2014.Islamic State militants stand guard after controlling a checkpoint in Khazer at the border area of the Kurdish semi-autonomous region, Aug. 7, 2014.
x
Islamic State militants stand guard after controlling a checkpoint in Khazer at the border area of the Kurdish semi-autonomous region, Aug. 7, 2014.
Islamic State militants stand guard after controlling a checkpoint in Khazer at the border area of the Kurdish semi-autonomous region, Aug. 7, 2014.

Known as the Islamic State, the Sunni extremists have already taken over large swathes of territory in northwestern Iraq and neighboring Syria. The group has imposed a strict form of Islamic law in the area, enforced through beheadings, amputations and crucifixions.

Considered more extremist than al-Qaida, the Islamic State has also threatened to capture the capital, Baghdad.

Witnesses said Islamic militants carried out an overnight offensive near the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, seizing several towns, including Qaraqosh and Tal Kayf, which have large Christian populations.

They also have captured two oilfields near the Syrian and Turkish borders.

Chaldean Archbishop Joseph Thomas told the French news agency AFP that “tens of thousands of terrified (Christians) are being displaced as we speak, it cannot be described.”

He added that their towns had been “emptied of their original residents and were now under the control of (IS) militants.” He called on the U.N. Security Council to “intervene immediately.”

Hundreds feared dead

Amnesty International said access is impossible to areas under IS control, and in surrounding areas where fighting with Kurdish forces is  ongoing.

Amnesty also reported that hundreds of civilians from Sinjar are feared feared dead or abducted after they were attacked by IS militants.

Jabber Yawar, the head of the Kurdish Peshmerga militia, insisted that the Islamic State's attack caught his men by surprise because it took place in a lightly defended area.

Yawar said it is well known that the area around Sinjar and Zumar are geographically wide expanses that are not well defended and have relatively few Peshmerga fighters for the lands they are defending.

He said that before the June retreat of Iraqi government forces from Mosul, Peshmerga fighters jointly patrolled 1,000 kilometers of territory with them.

Yawar added that cooperation with the Iraqi military had resumed within the past few days after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki offered air cover to Kurdish fighters.

He noted that conditions were desperate for thousands of Yazidi refugees stranded in the Sinjar Mountains since Sunday.

A female Iraqi lawmaker from Kurdistan broke down and began sobbing on the floor of parliament, urging the body to intervene to help thousands of Yazidi refugees who fled to the Sinjar Mountains over the weekend and were in need of food, water and shelter.

Meanwhile, as the Iraqi parliament met Thursday to discuss who should be country's next prime minister, lawmakers quarreled over parliamentary procedure and the use of mobile phones inside the chamber.

Outgoing Prime Minister Maliki insisted in his weekly television address Wednesday that parliament “must follow the constitution” and reappoint him to the post, or it would “open the gates of Hell,” and allow “foreign states to intervene in Iraq.”

Top Shi'ite religious leaders and members of Maliki's own political bloc are urging him to step aside.

Baghdad suicide bombing

Civilians inspect damages the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 7, 2014.Civilians inspect damages the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 7, 2014.
x
Civilians inspect damages the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 7, 2014.
Civilians inspect damages the morning after a string of car bombs tore through busy shopping streets in several neighborhoods in Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 7, 2014.

A suicide bomber driving a car killed 14 people in a Shi'ite area of Baghdad on Thursday, police and medical sources said.

The attack came while Islamic State Sunni militants pressed ahead with an offensive in northern Iraq that routed Kurdish forces and alarmed the Baghdad government and regional powers.

The group has previously claimed responsibility for bombings in Baghdad.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Luther from: USA
August 08, 2014 4:58 AM
Why the world is simply looking at the way ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) is killing innocent Christians in Iraq? President Obama, I beg you help those innocent people and kill all those ISIS.


by: Randy Horton
August 07, 2014 10:53 PM
Before we arrived, Iraq's Christian community was small but flourishing and enjoyed a large measure of religious freedom under Sunni Muslim Saddam Hussein. After we left, Iraq's Christian community had fled the country, been murdered or was suffering intense religious persecution. An unforeseen consequence of the U.S. invasion was the destruction of Iraq's Christian community by the Shiite Muslim majority.


by: eusebiomanuel vestias from: Portugal
August 07, 2014 12:49 PM
save the population civil the Iraq international community


by: Prophet from: Hell
August 07, 2014 8:22 AM
look, if you think the Kurds can stop ISIL you live in dream world. In the Islamic world Kurds are considered less than cockroaches. The only force in the ME that can stop Global Jihad is Israel, but even Israel is being betrayed by the treachery of the "West" and so is isolated and vulnerable, Lebanon and Jordan are the next easy targets for destruction. Lebanon is not a nation even; the "West" has been allowing Hezbollah to consume Lebanon from within and reduce it to a corrupt Iranian shell... Lebanon is just like Iraq; Jordan has always been a cruel and brutal and corrupt monarchy of treachery and deceit that the "West" has been trying to prop up... it will not last long. Jihadis have established a strong presence as UN "refugees" in Jordan... its only a matter of time now. Do not undermine the role of the corrupt UN in promoting Global Jihad in the world especially in Europe.

Also don't think that Qatar and Turkey will be immune from the depredations of what they have created - Hamas-ISIL-Nusra - its all the same - call it Global Jihad. lastly, the Iranians are considered to be even less than the Kurds - there will be no mercy for Iran or their Hezbollah.

In Response

by: Ali baba from: new york
August 07, 2014 10:11 AM
You are wrong. ISIL can be defeated easily . Syria can get rid of them. the problem in Syria that west do not like Bashar el Assad and weapons has be given to Jihadist . the fact they are punch of thugs and use torture and mass killing to scare their enemy. sooner or later they will be defeated . even the Kurds which you believe they are weak can inflict serious damage to them


by: meanbill from: USA
August 07, 2014 7:58 AM
THE GREATEST LIE ever told, or the "dumbest" statement ever made?..... US President Obama "quote" said it;... "Al-Qaeda is on the run, and their leadership is decimated."

The whole Islamic world is erupting in chaos, violence, destruction, killings and wars, because of American interference in the politics of the Islamic countries, (and guess who is the leader of America is now), who hasn't a clue on what the hell is going on?..... The US President Obama who naively "quote" said, "Bin Laden is dead, and the world is a safer place".... (is Obama's world, Disney Land?).


by: Tashdique ahmed from: london
August 07, 2014 7:46 AM
Let me first say that i do not agree with the policy of killing the prisoners of war who has already surrender.In Holy koran says that if the enimy surrenders then escort him to a place of security.In time of the prophet Mohammad there was a tax for the non beliefers with that their secutity was garanteed by the state.that tax was less then they paid to their own previous corrupt rulars.Now i see in western media they are saying that convert pay tax or leave .since force conversion is banned in islam ,im sure ISIS is not saying that ,what they maybe saying is if they willingly converts they dont have to pay tax otherwise they have to pay a small tax which will give them complete protection and if they do nither they have to leave but the media here knowingly lying to readers by saying they have to convert AND pay tax just to create an anti ISIS feelings and regarding christians they are leaving because it is a chance for them to go and live in europe or america get all kind of sympathy and benifits which they would not have been able to do before.

In Response

by: Mery-Ann Rees from: UK
August 07, 2014 11:42 AM
hey stupid Ahmed, does this sound like "reason" to you..?? i used to be very liberal and against US/Israel but the more i learn about your Islamic filth and corruption and moral decay the more i see the wisdom in the US/Israel answer to your islamic depravity.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid