ISIS took over Qaraqosh, the largest Christian town in Iraq, and asked the residents to convert to Islam or die. The village with a population of around 50,000 is now left to choose between Islam and death.
Thousands of Iraqi Christians started running away as they were given ultimatum that they should convert to Islam or be prepared to die. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant captured the town on Wednesday, Aug 6 and made its stand clear. The town has so far been safe for Christians in a country which has a major Muslim population. According to some local Christians, there is no way Christians can stay in Iraq any longer as ISIS is not going to allow it.
France earlier confirmed that the Christian town in Iraq had indeed been captured by the Islamic militants. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in an official statement that the French government was "highly concerned." "France is highly concerned about the latest progress of ISIS in the North of Iraq and by the taking of Qaraqosh, the largest Christian city of Iraq, and the horrible acts of violence that are committed," he said. France also called for a meeting with the UN Security Council so that the latest unrest in the Middle-East could be discussed.
ISIS strictly announced that the Christians in Qaraqosh should be ready to "face "death by the sword" unless they converted to Islam. ISIS earlier took control of the Mosul city, which forced many to run away to Qaraqosh. Similar ultimatum was issued by ISIS in Mosul as Christians in Mosul too were threatened to be killed unless they left their religious belief and accepted Islam. According to local officials, ISIS attacked nearby villages on Thursday, Aug 7. Tall Kayf and Bartella are two of those villages where there is a significant Christian population.
Christian houses in Qaraqosh were reportedly marked with an "X" as several properties belonging to Christians were handed over to Muslims in the locality. According to latest reports, the U.S. government is considering launching an air strike on ISIS. It may also provide humanitarian relief to the religious minorities in Iraq.
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