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

    Russia Sees Brexit Impact Widespread but Temporary

    Officials, citizens react to Britain’s vote to exit European Union with mix of pleasure, understanding and concern

    Obama Encourages Entrepreneurs to Seek Global Interconnection

    President tells entrepreneurs at global summit at Stanford University to find mentors, push ahead with new ideas on day after Britain voters decide to exit EU

    Video Some US Gun Owners Support Gun Control

    Defying the stereotype, Dave Makings says he'd give up his assault rifle for a comprehensive program to reduce gun violence

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Unchartered Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora