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ICC Note: Despite the ongoing fighting some of Syria’s Christian population remain in their hometown while fighting with militant Islamic groups continues not far away. The talk of leaving is still on the minds of many as they fear it could become a target again for militants of ISIS or the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra.

11/12/2014 Syria (Independent) Just 15 miles from the frontline of Isis, which persecutes their faith, the Christians of Qamishli gathered in the Church of the Holy Virgin for the wedding of Malek Aissa and Ilana Hacho.

The bride was a priest’s sister, the bridegroom a computer engineer, and they were greeted by ululations and the ancient choruses of the Syriac church, sung by a choir of young women dressed all in white and a row of clerics in pink, gold, scarlet and black robes. If you needed to be reminded that Christianity was an Eastern – not a Western – religion, Malek and Ilana’s wedding was proof enough. There were a multitude of blessings, a host of blazing candles, and more ululating between prayers.

But the church was only half full and the empty pews told a tragic tale. For of Qamishli’s Christian population of almost 8,000 souls, only 5,000 remain – and many of them are talking of leaving. Isis has seen to that.

The destruction and the killing of Christians around Mosul earlier this year was the moment of panic, and even the main road south from Qamishli to Hassake is dangerous. The city, isolated in the far north-east of Syria, has a cordon of army regiments and local militias to defend it, and the land to the east is held by armed Syrian Kurds. But the Turkish border is closed, and the rest of the land around the city is held by Isis and its fellow Islamists.

This exodus of Christians from the Middle East – as they themselves attest – only began after the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, whose architects, as we all know, are born-again Christians.

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