200,000 Assyrians Have Fled the Nineveh Plain in the Last 24 Hours
Assyrian refugees sleeping on the streets of Ankawa, Iraq (photo: ankawa.com).(AINA) — The push of the Islamic State (IS) from Mosul north into the Nineveh Plain, the last stronghold of Assyrians in Iraq, has created fear and panic in the population, causing a massive exodus from Assyrian villages. The influx of refugees into Ankawa and Noohadra (Dohuk) has overwhelmed the towns. There is a shortage of everything — shelter, food, water. Dispalced Assyrians are sleeping on sidewalks and in open fields.
AINA spoke to several government officials by telephone regarding the crisis in the Nineveh Plain. These same officials have also fled with the rest of the population.
Yesterday at midnight a column of IS vehicles entered Tel Kepe and took control of the city, whose population had already fled north. IS is now marching to Batnaya and Telsqof, which have been abandoned.
All of the population of the city of Alqosh has fled.
The massive exodus of Assyrians was precipitated in part by the withdrawal of Kurdish forces from the Nineveh Plain. With no one left to defend them, Assyrians followed the retreating Kurdish forces.
Baghdede is now nearly completely empty of Assyrians. The exodus began yesterday morning at 2:30 A.M when Kurdish forces announced they were withdrawing. The Bishops ordered all churches to ring their bells to warn the residents to flee and the exodus began.
After the Kurdish forces withdrew IS took control of the city and the surrounding areas, including Karamles and Bartella.
Last night and this morning IS robbed Assyrians as they fled Baghdede.
It is estimated that 200,000 Assyrians have fled the Nineveh Plain, heading north to Dohuk, Sarsink and Zakho and east to Ankawa and Arbel. The following is a list of Assyrian villages and towns which are now completely abandoned:
Seven Yazidi villages and fifteen Shabak villages surrounding Baghdede have also been abandoned, as well as most small villages in the Nineveh Plain north of Mosul.
Many Assyrians who fled to Arbel began to flee again when IS and the Kurds clashed 25 miles West of Arbel yesterday, they headed northwest to Diana and Rawondoz.
The situation of the Assyrian refugees is critical. There are thousands who fled on foot and are stranded on the roads without food or water, with many handicapped and disabled people. For those fortunate to have cars, they are unable to find shelter and are sleeping in their cars.
The Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East sent a letter Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the Unites Nations, urging action on the crisis in North Iraq (AINA 2014-08-07).
ISIS Captures Iraq’s Largest Christian Town
Displaced Iraqi Christians who had fled from Mosul city had sought refuge in Qaraqosh (photo: Reuters).KIRKUK, Iraq (AFP) — Jihadists took over Iraq’s largest Christian town Qaraqosh and surrounding areas Thursday and sent tens of thousands of panicked residents fleeing towards autonomous Kurdistan, officials and witnesses said.
Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) militants moved in overnight after the withdrawal of Kurdish peshmerga troops, who are stretched thin across several fronts in Iraq, residents said.
“I now know that the towns of Qaraqosh, Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have been emptied of their original population and are now under the control of the militants,” Joseph Thomas, the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, told AFP.
Qaraqosh is an entirely Christian town that lies between Mosul, the jihadists’ main hub in Iraq, and Irbil, the Kurdish region’s capital. It usually has a population of around 50,000.
“It’s a catastrophe, a tragic situation. We call on the U.N. Security Council to immediately intervene. Tens of thousands of terrified people are being displaced as we speak, it cannot be described,” the archbishop said.
Tal Kayf, the home of a significant Christian community as well as members of the Shabak Shiite minority, also emptied overnight.
“Tal Kayf is now in the hands of the Islamic State. They faced no resistance and rolled in just after midnight,” said Boutros Sargon, a resident who fled the town and was reached by phone in Irbil.
“I heard some gunshots last night and when I looked outside, I saw a military convoy from the Islamic State. They were shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is greatest),” he said.