Islamist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and ash-Sham (ISIS), an off-shoot of al-Qaeda, have gained full control of the northern city of Mosul, historically known as Nineveh. The vast majority of Christians in the city, up to 1,000 families, are said to have joined the exodus of half-a-million residents fleeing the violence. The army too has reportedly fled.
Release International partner Canon Andrew White of St George’s Church, Baghdad, says Kurdistan has closed its borders to refugees and the situation in Iraq is ‘the worst it’s ever been’.
‘Most of our people come from Nineveh and still see that as their home,’ he says. ‘Now the Christian centre of Iraq has been totally ransacked. The tanks are moving into the Christian villages, destroying them and causing total carnage.’
He added that ISIS had ‘totally taken control, destroyed all government departments, allowed all prisoners out of the prisons, killed countless numbers of people. There are bodies all over the streets.’
At least one Assyrian church in Mosul has been burned down. Christians feel particularly vulnerable to attack. Christians in Syria’s northern Raqqah province, where ISIS is also in control, were forced to convert, sign up to strict ‘rules of submission’ or be considered ‘enemies of Islam’.
Sources: Release International, The Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East, Middle East Concern
- Pray that Christians across Iraq will know God’s peace, presence, guidance and strength. Ask God to keep His people safe. Pray for wisdom for Christian leaders, including Canon Andrew White in Baghdad.
- Pray that God’s people will be able to stay in Iraq and build His church in that troubled land.
- Pray God will intervene in this strife to bring an end to the violence; pray for all those in authority in Iraq as well as other international leaders who are concerned; ask God to grant them wisdom.