Brain Bush’s Blog

Islamic State and Minorities

  • By : Brian Bush
  • August 8, 2014
  • 8:40 pm

Hello All,

Sadly, we have seen the Gaza truce expire and the rockets and airstrikes start up again.

But the story that has finally grabbed the world's attention away from the Hamas/Israel conflict is in Iraq and the effected religious minorities targeted by Islamic State (IS) fighters.

The United Nations says some 50,000 Yazidi members of the religious minority have fled their homes, many climbing Mount Sinjar where there have been conflicting reports of growing deaths from lack of food, water and shelter, to some having been rescued.

There are reports that IS fighters have surrounded the mountain. Many of those on the mountain are facing dehydration, and more than 40 children are reported dead by UN officials – other sources saying that number is more than 100.

US President Barak Obama has authorized aid drops on top of the mountain, declaring that the Iraqi Government has requested US intervention where they themselves can not intervene due to the lack of capabilities, and the President has also given the green light in limited and targeted US airstrikes to defend and save both the people on the mountain, reportedly up to 40,000 in number, from genocide, and American personnel on the ground in Irbil – and potentially in Baghdad.

The United Nations has reported that some individuals have reportedly been rescued off the top and relocated to a safe haven.

The first drops of aid have occurred, and with them, airstrikes upon IS artillery positions threatening the Kurdish fights trying to hold the mountain.

The other major development is that Nineveh inhabitants have, this week, left their homes as that Biblical city fell into the hands of IS with militant Islamic fighters blew up the commonly held burial site of the Prophet Jonah. Nineveh is roughly 250 miles north and west of Baghdad, and is home to a large number of small religious minorities.

Nineveh's fall is a symbolic victory for IS as it is referred to as Iraq's Christian capital, located 30km south-east of the city of Mosul, which rapidly fell to IS fighters in June.

Currently, some estimate that as many as 100,000 people are moving north and east toward the autonomous Kurdistan Region. Kurds are seen as tolerant – with many of their ethnic makeup coexisting in different faith beliefs – although the majority are Muslim. Their armed forces, called the Peshmerga, are well disciplined and have been putting up serious opposition to Islamic State fighters.

Iraq is home to one of the world's most ancient Christian communities, the Chaldean Church, with it's roots going back to the 4th century AD, but numbers have dropped with the rise of sectarian violence since the US-led invasion back in 2003. At that time it is commonly believed that there were 1.5 million Christians present in the area – that number is now dramatically down to as few as 350,000 in the area surrounding Nineveh where 4 mainly Christian villages and towns exist – and they are now on the run.

Pray for our brothers and sisters – and their Christian witness in the face of peril. May god give them strength.

Brian Bush
Middle East Correspondent
LeSEA Broadcasting

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