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ISIS Takes Qaraqosh, Forcing Thousands More Iraqi Christians into Exile

CNN reported today that the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Shams (ISIS) overran Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian city, causing the exodus of thousands more Iraqi Christians from their homes.

Qaraqosh is a historic Assyrian town of 50,000 people, approximately 20 miles southeast of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, where ISIS also has control.

When ISIS took over Mosul, many residents from there had fled to Qaraqosh. In Mosul, ISIS issued an ultimatum to Christians living there: Convert to Islam, pay a fine or face “death by the sword.”

Three other nearby villages were also attacked overnight and Thursday, local police officials told CNN. Two of the villages — Bartella and Tall Kayf — are predominately Christian. Hundreds of Christian families fled to the north, police said.

Providing some context for the plight of Iraq’s Christians, Raymond Ibrahim wrote earlier this week:

One of the most ancient Christian communities in the world, that of Iraq—which already had been decimated over the last decade, by Islamic forces unleashed after the ousting of Saddam Hussein—has now been wiped out entirely by the new “caliphate,” the so-called Islamic State, formerly known by the acronym “ISIS.”

Christians are given the choice to pay a special tax called jizya for the privilege of remaining in their homes. Failure to accept means they are marked for death.

Two weeks ago, the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) published a transcript of Mosul’s Archbishop Nikodimos Daoud (video embedded below) telling of the depredations suffered by Christian in Mosul. The archbishop was speaking from Irbil, a Kurdish city, having fled his home in Mosul.

The recent gains made by ISIS in Iraq’s north have prompted calls for greater American support for the Kurds as a bulwark against the extreme Islamists.

[Photo: MEMRITVVideos / YouTube ]