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ICC Note: Assyrian Christians in Iraq are feeling increasingly threatened by the Islamic State’s growing power in the region. In a small town of Alqosh, a small family fears that if they stay in their home they risk being wiped out by ISIS. Many are facing uncertainty in the future and worry that their heritage as one of the oldest Christian communities will be destroyed. Many have left the region, seeking refuge elsewhere.

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

07/03/14 Iraq (Al-Monitor) – When militants led by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) — now known as the Islamic State — stormed Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul, on June 10, Um Hanna and her extended seven-member family hastily rushed toward the safer town of Alqosh, 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the north.

In Alqosh, the family lives in a two-room house offered to them free of charge by a local resident. As a Christian family, they thought if they stayed in Mosul their fate would be annihilation at the hand of the militants.

“It was a dangerous situation for Christians,” Um Hanna told Al-Monitor, standing among her family members. “No one knows how the situation in Mosul will end for Christians.”

So far, at least, the worst fears of Um Hanna and many others like her have not come true.

Many like Um Hanna expected ISIS to engage in a campaign of eliminating non-Muslims — such as Christians and followers of the ancient Mesopotamian Yazidi faith. ISIS, it was assumed, would soon embark on destroying their cultural heritage in Mosul. A number of Christian community leaders Al-Monitor spoke with estimate a couple hundred Christians might still be in Mosul. But, the jihadists seem to have refrained from acts of large-scale violence against those groups or the systematic destruction of their religious or cultural symbols.

This stands in contrast to their track record in neighboring Syria, where they have engaged in a brutal campaign of killing significant numbers of followers of other religions. The ISIS militants in Syria have also destroyed religious and archaeological sites of minorities.

Comparatively, in Mosul, a few Christian monks and individuals appear to have been subjected to abductions. Accounts of killings are disputed and unverifiable at this point.

Despite media reports of ISIS plans to destroy Christian archaeological relics and religious sites, so far only a statue of the Virgin Mary appears to have been destroyed, based on accounts provided to Al-Monitor by knowledgeable sources on the ground.

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