ISIS Fighters Overrun Iraq’s Largest Christian Town Qaraqosh, Residents Flee
Just a day after The Inquisitr reported about the 40,000 trapped Yazidi people atop the Sinjar Mountains of northern Iraq, we have yet another humanitarian crisis unfolding in the country. Islamic State (ISIS) militants have continued their push towards northern Iraq and have now reportedly overrun the city of Qaraqosh – known to be Iraq’s largest Christian city. Invading ISIS fighters have managed to push back Kurdish troops from the city and have in an overnight raid captured several Christian towns in the region, reports The Guardian.
Qaraqosh is located between Mosul, which has been under the control of the ISIS for the past few months – and Arbil which is the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq. Qaraqosh had a population of around 50,000 almost entirely composed of Christians.
According to fleeing residents and Christian priests, several towns including Qaraqosh, Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have been “cleansed” of their original Christian population. These towns are now under the total control of ISIS fighters. According to Joseph Thomas, the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, the situation in these towns are “catastrophic and tragic” as told to the AFP.
“We call on the UN Security Council to immediately intervene. Tens of thousands of terrified people are being displaced as we speak, it cannot be described,” Thomas adds.
Advancing ISIS fighters have over the past week managed to inflict humiliating damage to defending Kurdish troops who have been thus far defending the northern fringes of Iraq from the ISIS. This region of Iraq is known to house several minority communities including Kurds, Christians and the Yazidi sect. ISIS has been on a mission to forcefully convert people from other sects and religions to Islam and have threatened them with death if they do not comply.
Reports also add that the town of Tal Kayf which houses a significant Christian population along with members of the minority Shabak Shiite community was also emptied of its residents overnight as the ISIS marched on.
According to Boutros Sargon, a resident of Tal Kyf who fled to the town of Arbil fearing ISIS fighters, the entire town is now in the hands of the ISIS.
“They faced no resistance and rolled in just after midnight. I heard some gunshots last night and when I looked outside, I saw a military convoy from the ISIS. They were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar'” he said.
As the crisis in Iraq worsens, various organizations have criticized the United Nations for being a mute spectator to the sufferings of the minority community in Iraq at the hands of the ISIS. Criticism has also come from Falah Musafa Bakir, the foreign minister of Iraqi Kurdistan. Mustafa told CNN in an interview that the United States of America has a moral responsibility to intervene in the crisis.
“We are left alone in the front to fight the terrorists of ISIS. I believe the United States has a moral responsibility to support us, because this is a fight against terrorism, and we have proven to be pro-democracy, pro-West, and pro-secularism.”
[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]