Militants from the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) have taken over Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Iraq. Thousands of residents evacuated the region to escape the mounting tension and violence in the area.
"I now know that the towns of Qaraqosh, Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have been emptied of their original population and are now under the control of the militants," Joseph Thomas, archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah said.
The archbishop said residents are terrified and in danger.
"It's a catastrophe, a tragic situation. We call on the UN Security Council to immediately intervene," Thomas said.
A Tal Kayf resident Boutros Sargon said, "They [the militants] 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 Islamic State. They were shouting 'Allahu Akbar' (God is greatest).”
Islamic State members believe in a strict strain of Sunni Islam. The group continues to drive Christians out of Iraq in a religious cleansing. The Christian population of Iraq, once about 1.5 million, is now believed to be fewer than 200,000.
Publication date: August 7, 2014