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ICC Note: ISIS, an offshoot of al Qaeda, is now declaring parts of Iraq and Syria a new caliphate. Many Christians and other minorities are being severely punished for any act deemed a rebellion. With a rise in extreme intolerance, many have fled to neighboring cities for shelter. Those who cannot flee are subject to this extraordinary violence. If we do not act soon, Iraq and Syria may lose their Christians permanently.

ICC has launched a campaign to provide aid to the Iraqi church to assist those in need who have fled from the attacks. Go here to find out more and donate: Iraqi Crisis Response

07/01/14 Syria (Christian Post) – An offshoot of al Qaeda, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as ISIS, has declared the territory it has seized in Iraq and Syria a “caliphate,” or Islamic state, and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, as caliph or leader for Muslims. The group also nailed nine men to a cross in Syria as punishment for rebellion.

“He is the imam and khalifah (Caliph) for the Muslims everywhere,” the Sunni group’s spokesman, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, said in a statement, according to Reuters.

“Accordingly, the ‘Iraq and Sham’ (Levant) in the name of the Islamic State is henceforth removed from all official deliberations and communications, and the official name is the Islamic State from the date of this declaration,” he said.

“It is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to [him] and support him … The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the khalifah’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas.”

ISIS is among the major terrorist groups that are fighting government forces in Syria. The group has now made significant military gains also in Iraq. Its fighters took control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, without any resistance from Iraqi forces earlier this month.

The group exploited the growing tension between the Sunni minority and Shia-led government in Iraq earlier this year by capturing the predominantly Sunni city of Fallujah in west Iraq. It also gained control of many parts of the city of Ramadi and has its fighters in many towns near the Turkish and Syrian borders.

Meanwhile, the group crucified nine men to a cross in the main square of his village in Syria, Al-Bab, near the border with Turkey, for rebelling against President Bashar al-Assad and jihadist groups, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. One of the men survived but the other eight died.

The group has also targeted Christians, going on a rampage, looting and burning government buildings, raising its black flag and burning churches throughout Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province.

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