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ICC Note: As ISIS continues to push Christians out of Mosul and other areas in Iraq and Syria, others are beginning to worry if they will ever be allowed to safely return to their homes. Nearly 10,000 Christians were living in Mosul before ISIS took over. Now, the city is all but deserted. ISIS has particularly been targeted in Christians, viewing the religious minority as a threat to the establishment of a purely Islamic State. Last Saturday, Christians were left with four options: Convert, pay tax, leave, or die.

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

07/25/14 Iraq (Think Progress) – Last week, the militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) forced 10,000 Christians living in the Iraqi city of Mosul to pack up their belongings and flee. The mass exodus of Christians comes as the largest forced displacement in the region since the Ottoman Empire drove tens of thousands of Armenians out of modern day Turkey during the nearly 100 years ago.

ISIS has been targeting Christians ever since it first got started. As a militant group fighting against both the forces of President Bashar al-Assad and rebel groups in Syria’s civil war, ISIS wreaked havoc on Syrian Christians, torching churches in the historic Christian city of Maaloula and kidnapping bishops. Still, Mosul’s large Christian population remained determined to remain in the city where their ancestors have lived for 1,600 years.

That all changed when ISIS issued a statement last Thursday ordering the city’s Christians to convert, pay a hefty religious tax, or face execution on Saturday. For the first month of their occupation, ISIS apparently did not carry out attacks with Christians as the main targets, instead focusing on Shiite Muslims. The militants invaded the city, Iraq’s second largest, in early June as part of a lightning advance through Iraq that took the world by surprise and vastly expanded the territory under the group’s control.

According to Ignatius Aphrem II, patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Antioch and All the East, most Christian families fled to Kurdistan or the surrounding Nineveh Plains, while others wound up in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. The last 1,500 families to leave Mosul were robbed at ISIS checkpoints as they fled. “If Isis stays, there is no way the Christians can return,” Father Boutrous Moshi told reporters with the Guardian from a Christian area southeast of Mosul.

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