What can be said? Simply it is a pity that those political leaders within the West and the Arab Gulf countries who are responsible for supporting Jihadist scum like ISIS are not its victims…..But if history is anything to go by, such criminal acts do not go unpunished or remain isolated and confined to their particular scene. And if we believe in God as just and fair, as well as what the Holy Elders of Orthodoxy have been saying for quite a long time, the moment of reckoning is nigh, as we fast approach the precipice of a probable world war as these various small conflicts merge into a greater whole, combined with the financial instability of the global economy and the ethical dilemma of the decline in morals and values across all societies worldwide….
CHURCHES BURNED AS ISIS CARRY OUT MASS KIDNAPPING OF CHRISTIANS IN SYRIA
Assyrian Christians appeal for help after at least 90 people were abducted from villages in the north-east of the country
Assyrian Christians have expressed frustration with the West after ISIS terrorists captured an estimated 90 people in north-east Syria.
The men, women and children were captured in an assault by the Islamist militia in the villages of Tal Shamiran and Tal Hermiz. A number of Assyrian militia men defending the villages in the region are believed to have been killed.
Abbot Emanuel Youkhana, who works in support of persecuted Christians in the region, told Aid to the Church in Need that “the church and community hall are overloaded with the people and they are now [sending] them to the families in Hassake city.”
Churches in Tal Shamiran and Tal Hermiz were burned down after being captured.
Abbot Youkhana told the Catholic charity: “The fight started Monday early morning, 4am Syrian time, when ISIS opened a 40km-long battle front from Tel Shamiram to Tel Hormizd.
“ISIS were defeated in Kobane and elsewhere, [but] it tried to get gains in other places. ISIS took advantage of [the fact that the] PYD (Democratic Union Kurdish Party) [had] been fighting in other places – mainly the Syrian-Iraqi borders.”
But Abbot Youkhana also said that 15 Assyrians in the village of Qaber Shamait were rescued by Sunni Muslim neighbours.
“Most of the Christian Assyrian families of this side of Khabour River managed to flee to Hassake and Qamishli,” he said.
“There are no clear numbers of the families, but more than 600 families managed to flee. Most of them are in Hasseke and around 200 in Qamishli.”
Members of the Syriac speaking minority are preparing to mark the centenary of the 1915 genocide in April, called Sayfo, or Sword; large numbers of Syriac-speaking Christians were killed along with Armenians and Greeks.
There are 35 Assyrian villages in the Khabour region which were founded following the 1933 Simele massacre in northern Iraq.
John Michael, a member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement’s UK branch, said: “For the first time in history, there are no Assyrians left in Mosul, there are no Assyrians left in the Nineveh Plains as they were attacked and forced out of their towns and villages by ISIS in 2014.
“The West is arming and supporting the central government in Iraq, the Kurdish Peshmarga, the Shiite militias but no one is supporting the Assyrian Christians. The Assyrians are totally ignored and being left to their own devices with no means to defend themselves against the evil barbarians of ISIS. Another genocide is unfolding in front of our eyes and the world remains silent to the plight of the innocent Assyrian Christians.
“How much longer will this persecuted minority have to suffer before those in positions of power act to protect them? Or should we all remain silent whilst a massacre unfolds in the ancestral lands of the Assyrian Christians?”
Marden Isaac, an Assyrian writer who works with the Assyrian group A Demand for Action (https://www.facebook.com/DemandforAction), told the Herald: “The crisis illustrates that in the continuing absence of an international resolution to the Syrian crisis through which all people would have their human and ethnic rights protected, security provisions must be provided to Assyrians/Syriacs in Syria to coordinate their self-defence with other moderate forces combating ISIS. We urgently call for further airstrikes by American and western powers to assist those Assyrian and Kurdish forces currently combating the genocidal Islamic State and seeking to liberate, secure and repopulate seized villages and towns.”
SYRIA: IS JIHADISTS ATTACK CHRISTIAN VILLAGES TAKING DOZENS OF HOSTAGES
Assyrians living on the banks of the Khabur river in the north-eastern part of the country are being targeted by extremists. A boy has been killed. “We feel abandoned” says Archbishop Hindo.
Christians in Syria are still being targeted by ISIS. In the early hours of yesterday morning (Monday 23 February), more than 40 pick up tucks carrying jihadist militants, members of the self-styled Islamic State (IS), attacked a number of Christian Assyrian villages on the Khabur River in the north-eastern Syrian province of Jazira. The jihadists took dozens of Assyrian Christians hostage, churches in some villages were torched or vandalised.This was confirmed to Catholic news agency Fides by the Syrian-Catholic Archbishop of Hassaké-Nisibi, Jacques Behnan Hindo. “The terrorists first attacked the village of Tel Tamar, – said the Archbishop, then they took Tel Shamiran and all the many smaller villages as far as Tel Hermuz, where they set fire to everything. In Tel Hormuz and at Tel Shamiran they took dozens of hostages, with the intention perhaps of using them for obtaining a ransom or for an exchange of prisoners. Yesterday evening, at 9.30 pm Kurd fighters told us they had managed to take control of Tel Hormuz, with the help of Syrian Christian battalions. However as yet we have no confirmation of this news.” According to Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana of Christian Aid Program Nohadra-Iraq, whose statements were reported by the association Aid to the Church in Need, a 17-year-old boy called Milad has apparently been martyred and killed.
“According to Archbishop Hindo, this jihadist attack brought to light deplorable conduct on the part of other persons: “I wish to say quite clearly – the archbishop affirms – that we have the feeling of being abandoned into the hands of those Daesh (Arabic acronym or nickname for Isis militia: editor’s note). Yesterday American bombers flew over the area several times, but without taking action. We have a hundred Assyrian families who have taken refuge in Hassakè, but they have received no assistance either from the Red Crescent or from Syrian government aid workers, perhaps because they are Christians. The UN high commission for Refugees is nowhere to be seen.”
The Chaldean Auxiliary Bishop of Baghdad and Patriarchal Vicar, Mgr. Shlemon Warduni, shared similar views in a statement to SIR, the news agency of the Italian Bishop’s Conference: “Sadly, I am not suprised by what is going on in Syria, in the Assyrian Christian villages in the Khabur region. The whole world knows who the IS are, the Islamic State is committing horrible and unthinkable acts against justice and humanity. So I ask myself: where is the international community?” “I hope from the bottom of my heart that the people the IS has taken hostage will not be killed,” Wardumi concluded. “The Lord has placed them in that land so that they may become the salt and light of the world and not in order for them to be brutally killed. Let us pray that the Lord gives them faith and courage in this difficult moment but also that he opens the minds of these barbarians.”
“Along the banks of the River Khabur, perennial affluent of the Euphrates, there more than 30 Christian villages established in the 1930s, a safe haven for Assyrian and Chaldean Christians fleeing Iraq and the massacres perpetrated by the Iraqi army at that time. These villages were flourishing, each with a population of thousands, with churches and active communities running schools and social initiatives. But with the onset of war most had become empty and some were more like ghost towns. Tel Hormuz, which before the war counted some 4 thousand inhabitants, had dwindled in recent months to less than three hundred.”
ISLAMIC STATE ABDUCTS MORE THAN 90 CHRISTIANS FROM NORTH-EAST SYRIA
By Abigail Frymann Rouch – 24 February 2015
Islamic State (IS) jihadists have on Monday abducted at least 90 Christian men, women and children from villages in north-eastern Syria, a human rights body said.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the Assyrian Orthodox Christians were kidnapped in dawn raids near the town of Tal Tamr.
They were taken from the villages of Tal Shamiram and Tal Hurmoz in a predominantly Kurdish region of Syria that lies between Turkey and Iraq.
Sources told SOHR that they heard IS members saying via wireless devices that they had detained “56 crusaders” from Tal Shamiram.
IS fighters swept through a string of Christian-majority villages along the banks of the Khabour river on Monday.
More than 600 families have fled, a local cleric told the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) – around 400 to Hassakeh city and another 200 to the city of Qamishli. Others are reportedly trapped in their villages.
Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana, who works in support of persecuted Christians in the region, spoke to a bishop aiding those who have fled.
“Bishop Mar Aprem Athniel… told me the church and community hall are overloaded with the people and they are now [sending] them to the families in Hassakeh city,” he told ACN.
The churches in Tal Shamiran and Tal Hurmoz have been torched, the charity said.
The attacks come as Syrian Kurdish fighters backed by US-led air strikes continue to advance into IS-held territory. In Tal Tamr there have been fierce clashes between IS and Kurdish-run People’s Protection Units (YPG).
Archimandrite Youkhana said IS took advantage of the fact that the Kurdish groups had been fighting in other places, mainly the Syrian-Iraqi borders. “So there was less resistance to face IS fighters. In general, IS was supported by Arab Sunni neighbouring villages.” But he said some Arab Sunni villagers rescued Christians.
Archimandrite Youkhana said among those kidnapped were 14 young people who were defending Tal Hurmoz, and that IS soldiers had separated men from women and children.
He added: “Knowing the brutal barbaric record of IS with the captured, the destiny of those families is a major concern to us.”
IRAQI CHRISTIANS FORM MILITIA TO FIGHT ISIS
By Staff Reporter – Wednesday, 4 February 2015
Group aims to take back Nineveh Plains from Islamists
Christians in Iraq have formed a militia to take back their Nineveh Plains homeland from ISIS.
The organisation, the Nineveh Plains Protection Units, has more than 3,000 troops serving or awaiting training, and has the backing of the Iraqi Government and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
The force has 500 Assyrian Christian troops stationed in towns such as Alqosh in the Nineveh Plains to defend them from ISIS, with a further 500 being trained and another 3,000 men registered and awaiting training. Their aim is to take back the rest of the Nineveh Plains, a traditionally Christian part of Iraq, which was overrun by ISIS last summer. More than 100,000 Christians are currently displaced in the nearby Kurdish-controlled region of northern Iraq, along with a large number of Yazidis.
The Assyrian forces are allied to the Iraqi Army and Kurds but do not take orders from either, and their aim is to establish an administrate area for the Assyrians and Yazidis, as well as other minorities such as Shabaks and Mandeans.
The group are funded by members of the Assyrian diaspora, which is mainly concentrated in the United States, Australia and Sweden, and they are being trained by an American security company. However they are short of funds.
There are around 5,000 people of Assyrian descent in Britain, many of whom were given citizenship on account of their fathers and grandfathers’ service in the Assyrian Levies, who fought alongside the British in the First and Second World War.
British-Assyrians are currently awaiting a response from the Foreign Office on whether it is legal or not to financially support the group.
John Michael, a British-Assyrian, said: “This is our last stand, if this fails then Christianity will be finished in Iraq.”