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75% of Assyrians Return to Their Town in North Iraq

By , September 16, 2014 3:35 pm

Alqosh, Iraq (AINA) — More than 75% of the residents of Alqosh, an Assyrian town 37 miles north of Mosul, have returned to their town after fleeing from the threat of ISIS on August 7. On September 12 the residents celebrated the festival Mar Qardakh, the patron saint of Alqosh, at the Saint Qardakh the Martyr Church. The Holy Mass was led by Bishop Michael Muqadissi of the Alqosh Archdiocese and was attended by hundreds of people from the town. After the mass, the people walked around the Church in a procession lead by children and deacons.

Improvements in security in the Nineveh Plain has allowed the residents of Alqosh to return. Iraqi and Kurdish forces, with the aid of U.S. airstrikes, have recaptured several villages in the Nineveh Plain and are pushing toward Mosul.

Life in Alqosh is slowly returning to normal, but the economy has been disrupted. Civil service employees have not received their salaries for the last three months.

In terms of services, Alqosh did not experience interruptions in water or electricity, unlike other towns and villages nearer to Mosul, whose water and electric service was cut off by ISIS. A number of doctors and dentists also returned and began seeing patients in their private clinics. Stores, pharmacies and markets are open.

Faez Juhoory, District Director of Alqosh, who never left the town, said that most Alqosh families have returned to the town after the restoration of security, thanks to the Kurdish forces stationed south of the district.

Mr. Juhoory confirmed that basic municipal services are at the same level as before. A group of Alqosh youth, in the early days after the people fled, took on the task of keeping the town clean and watering trees and seedlings, using the municipality’s equipment. After the return of some of the municipal employees and contractors, only those who worked were paid daily wages. Funds were donated by the sons of Alqosh in the Diaspora.

After fleeing Alqosh, most families took refuge in the Assyrian city of Noohadra (Dohuk), which is further north, and the villages and towns surrounding it, and others traveled to Turkey.

Assyrian International News Agency

75% of Assyrians Return to Their Town in North Iraq

By , September 16, 2014 3:35 pm

Alqosh, Iraq (AINA) — More than 75% of the residents of Alqosh, an Assyrian town 37 miles north of Mosul, have returned to their town after fleeing from the threat of ISIS on August 7. On September 12 the residents celebrated the festival Mar Qardakh, the patron saint of Alqosh, at the Saint Qardakh the Martyr Church. The Holy Mass was led by Bishop Michael Muqadissi of the Alqosh Archdiocese and was attended by hundreds of people from the town. After the mass, the people walked around the Church in a procession lead by children and deacons.

Improvements in security in the Nineveh Plain has allowed the residents of Alqosh to return. Iraqi and Kurdish forces, with the aid of U.S. airstrikes, have recaptured several villages in the Nineveh Plain and are pushing toward Mosul.

Life in Alqosh is slowly returning to normal, but the economy has been disrupted. Civil service employees have not received their salaries for the last three months.

In terms of services, Alqosh did not experience interruptions in water or electricity, unlike other towns and villages nearer to Mosul, whose water and electric service was cut off by ISIS. A number of doctors and dentists also returned and began seeing patients in their private clinics. Stores, pharmacies and markets are open.

Faez Juhoory, District Director of Alqosh, who never left the town, said that most Alqosh families have returned to the town after the restoration of security, thanks to the Kurdish forces stationed south of the district.

Mr. Juhoory confirmed that basic municipal services are at the same level as before. A group of Alqosh youth, in the early days after the people fled, took on the task of keeping the town clean and watering trees and seedlings, using the municipality’s equipment. After the return of some of the municipal employees and contractors, only those who worked were paid daily wages. Funds were donated by the sons of Alqosh in the Diaspora.

After fleeing Alqosh, most families took refuge in the Assyrian city of Noohadra (Dohuk), which is further north, and the villages and towns surrounding it, and others traveled to Turkey.

Assyrian International News Agency

Hungarian companies want to enter the market to invest in Iraq

By , September 15, 2014 11:43 am

http://theiraqijournal.com/hungarian-companies-want-to-enter-the-market-to-invest-in-iraq/



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Some Assyrians Who Fled Their Town Say They Wish to Leave Iraq

By , September 14, 2014 5:58 pm

Assyrian residenqi works on a temporary mosaic of Christian symbols made from the area’s produce, including wheat, beans and lentils to commemorate an upcoming harvest feast, at the Chaldean Church of the Virgin Mary of the Harvest, in Alqosh, June 15, 2014 (AP photo).(AFP) — Threats by jihadists have sent a fresh wave of Christians fleeing their Iraqi homeland, bustling from exodus to exodus in search of a safe haven to rebuild their lives

Raja Marzina, who has taken refuge in Jordan with her husband and their five children, never imagined she would one day have to leave Iraq for good.

“But we had no choice; we had to flee to save our lives and our religion,” she said.

Like dozens of others who fled the orgy of violence unleashed by Islamic State (IS) jihadists this summer, Marzina goes to the Syriac Catholics Virgin Mary church in Amman for prayers and to discuss the latest events back home.

IS militants between June and August seized Mosul, Iraq’s second city that was home to a sizeable Christian community, and Qaraqosh, the country’s largest Christian town.

Jordan is the transit point for Iraqis waiting to emigrate to North America or Europe, after a stopover in the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

“Around 70 percent of the Christians of Iraq have left their country over the past 20 years because of its successive wars and conflicts,” said Wael Suleiman, the Jordan director of the Catholic relief organisation Caritas.

It was estimated their were one million Iraqi Christians before the wave of emigration began, with Baghdad once home to 600,000 of them.

The number of Christians in Iraq has been declining ever since the 2003 US-led invasion and the insurgencies that followed.

Death threats

“The final straw for those who stayed behind in Iraq came when the extremists seized control of their regions, sending almost 200,000 into flight to Kurdistan,” said Suleiman.

In the ancient, pre-Islamic Christian heartland of Iraq, IS captured Mosul, a city of 30 churches, some dating back 1,500 years, before also taking over neighboring Christian towns and villages.

Its campaign of what the United Nations condemned as “ethnic and religious cleansing” left Christians with the stark choice of converting to Islam, paying a special tax for protection or leaving on pain of death.

In the end, tens of thousands fled to Iraqi Kurdistan further north, most of them to its capital, Erbil.

Ghadir Yss=”inte 34-year-old widower with three children at his side, told of how they escaped from Qaraqosh on August 6 when it came under bombardment.

“All I took was my wife’s gold which I then sold for $ 2,000 (1,550 euros) so that the children would not die of hunger,” he said.

“We stayed a week in Erbil, where we slept on roads and in public parks. We couldn’t take it anymore so we decided to come to Jordan.”

‘No more injustice, humiliation’

Stroking his children’s heads, Yussef said he has no choice but to leave the land of his ancestors behind.

“It did not protect us, my children and me. We want a better life without fear, injustice and humiliation,” he said.

Marzina, a 39-year-old mother, was bleak in her assessment as she listed the horrors of life back home.

“We have no future in Iraq. I don’t think we’ll ever go back,” she said. “For years now, we’ve had to put up with kidnappings, murders, beheadings, threats, car-bomb attacks.

“There is no place anymore for Christians in Iraq, and thoseV3ClkQJma1JL0nGW5Z19dUpwZss59G2s4MC3060dBOEtv09yJDW6N/NMyNqfLJEbRTZ0K5nf”>

Assyrian International News Agency

Tens of Thousands of Assyrian and Yazidi Children At Risk in North Iraq

By , September 14, 2014 6:34 am

Tens of Thousands of Assyrian and Yazidi Children At Risk in North Iraq

Posted 2014-09-14 09:04 GMT

Assyrian child refugee living in an open shelter in Ankawa.(AINA) — 200,00 Assyrians and 150,000 Yazidis who were driven from their villages by ISIS are now facing the dangers of cold weather as winter approaches. Already temperatures in north Iraq are very low at night, requiring extra blankets and space heaters for warmth.

See Timeline of ISIS in North Iraq.

Since capturing Mosul on June 10 ISIS has driven 200,000 Assyrians and 150,000 Yazidis from their homes, killed thousands of Yazidis and Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs), destroyed all churches in Mosul and looted and plundered entire towns and villages that were abandoned by the fleeing Assyrians and Yazidis.

The refugees are now living in church courtyards, refugees camps, abandoned and unfinished buildings, open fields and sidewalks — in Ankawa, Arbel and Dohuk and its surrounding areas.

In an interview on the MidPoint program on Newsmax TV, the president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, Julianna Taimoorazy, is warning that up to 200,000 children are at risk from exposure to cold weather.

Here is the interview:

Assyrian International News Agency

Iraq PM Orders Halt to Shelling of Civilian Areas

By , September 13, 2014 7:10 pm

Iraq PM Orders Halt to Shelling of Civilian Areas

Posted 2014-09-14 02:08 GMT

BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraq’s prime minister said Saturday he has ordered the army to stop shelling populated areas held by militants in order to spare the lives of “innocent victims” as the armed forces struggle to retake cities and towns seized by the Islamic State extremist group this summer.

“I issued this order two days ago because we do not want to see more innocent victims falling in the places and provinces controlled by Daesh,” Haider al-Abadi told a news conference in Baghdad, referring to the Islamic State group by its Arabic acronym.

He accused the militants of using civilians as a human shield to stop the advance of Iraqi security forces. But he vowed to continue military operations against the al-Qaida breakaway group, which seized large territories in the north and west in an unprecedented June offensive.

“We will continue to chase them (IS fighters) and we know that they are hiding behind the civilians,” he added.

The United Nations envoy to Iraq, Nickolay Mladenov, who was present at the conference, welcomed al-Abadi’s commitment to protect civilians.

The army’s heavy-handed tactics have long fueled anger among the country’s Sunni minority, leading many to welcome the insurgents as liberators when they swept into Sunni-majority areas earlier this year. The Shiite-led government is under mounting pressure from the international community to reach out to both Sunnis and Kurds in order to form a united front against the militant onslaught.

Also Saturday, the U.S. military said that it had conducted two airstrikes Friday against Islamic State militants near the Mosul dam.

U.S. Central Command said the strikes destroyed a mortar emplacement and an armed vehicle, and brought the total number of strikes to 160 across Iraq since the military campaign began.

Assyrian International News Agency

Over 2,700 Iraq air missions preceded Obama’s anti-ISIS campaign expansion

By , September 13, 2014 6:01 pm

Over 2,700 Iraq air missions preceded Obama’s anti-ISIS campaign expansion
By: RT on: 13.09.2014 [07:24 ] (142 reads)

Over 2,700 Iraq air missions preceded Obama’s anti-ISIS campaign expansion

Published time: September 13, 2014 00:30

Air Force, Al-Qaeda, Iraq, Security, Terrorism, USA, War
The US Air Force and Navy had carried out over 2,700 missions against the Islamic State in Iraq, including more actual airstrikes than previously stated by the US administration, even before Obama’s expanded military campaign against the group had begun.

The 2,749 missions included surveillance and refueling aircraft, which let“US combat aircraft loiter over an area, perhaps for hours, to observe, classify, verify and in some cases attack militants’ positions,” the Pentagon said, according to Bloomberg. During those missions US aircraft reportedly used 253 bombs and missiles to destroy 212 Islamic State targets like Humvees and checkpoints.

The US Central Command maintains that the current number of airstrikes conducted stands at 156 in total across Iraq. The Pentagon Press Secretary, Navy Rear Admiral John Kirby, said in a televised addressed posted on the Department of Defense website that “We’ve been pretty aggressive so far doing 160, all very effective without needing US troops in a combat role on the ground in Iraq, and it’s very clear we’re not going to do that and it’s not part of the mission going forward.”

President Obama addressed the nation this week, saying he would order a “relentless effort to take out the Islamic State wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.”

Meanwhile, Kirby also added that when the US does take military action against the group – also known as ISIS or ISIL – it will also consider targeting individuals in leadership positions.

“One of the ways you get at and you destroy the capabilities of an enemy like (ISIS) is to be pretty aggressive against them, and that does include disrupting their ability to command and control and to lead their own forces,” Kirby said.

The total number of missions in Iraq suggests a far more aggressive campaign than Americans were led to understand. Meanwhile, the total number of potential IS fighters had doubled compared to the last estimate. The group can now “muster between 20,000 and 31,500” throughout both Iraq and Syria., according to CIA.

“This new total reflects an increase in members because of stronger recruitment since June following battlefield successes and the declaration of a caliphate, greater battlefield activity, and additional intelligence,” a CIA spokesperson told CNN on Thursday.

Following Obama’s announcement that he would not hesitate to use military force in Syria, without consent “if necessary,” the US has already begun conducting surveillance flights within Syria’s borders.

READ MORE: West may use ISIS as pretext to bomb Syrian govt forces

The Syrian government, which was open for cooperation in coordinating such strikes after battling the radicals for over three years, has warned that if the US launches an attack within its borders without first consulting with Damascus, the country would consider it an act of aggression.

http://rt.com/usa/187456-iraq-us-strikes-islamic-state/

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New French Ambassador to Iraq

By , September 13, 2014 1:19 pm

New French Ambassador to Iraq

By John Lee.

The new Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Ibrahim al-Jaafari has met the new French Ambassador to Iraq, Mr. Francois Bartley, and received a copy of his credentials.

During the meeting, they discussed relations between Iraq and France and ways to enhance prospects of joint cooperation.

They also discussed the ongoing preparations for the visit of the French President to Iraq next Friday, as well as efforts to hold a conference in Paris next week to support Iraq in its war against terrorism.

(Source: MoFA)

Iraq Business News

Bishop Appeals to U.N. to Rescue Minorities in Northwestern Iraq

By , September 12, 2014 8:23 pm

Bishop Appeals to U.N. to Rescue Minorities in Northwestern Iraq

Iraqi Christians attend an Easter mass at Chaldean Catholic church in Amman Apr. 24, 2011. Thousands of Iraqi Christians fled to neighbouring Jordan following a spate of bombings that targeted churches in Iraqi cities in the past few years (photo: catholicdefender2000.blogspot.com).SAN DIEGO (IPS) — For decades, the minority Christian population of Iraq has been suffering hardships. But in the summer months of 2014 — and since the beginning of the military campaign by ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, also known as ISIL or Islamic State) — the situation has gone from bad to intolerably worse.

The Chaldean Catholic Church is one of the Eastern Catholic Churches, which is an autonomous, self-governing church in full communion with the Pope (Bishop of Rome) and the wider Roman Catholic Church.

Chaldean Christians number over half a million people who are ethnic Assyrians and indigenous to predominantly northwestern Iraq and parts of northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran.

The core villages of the Chaldean people, located in the Nineveh plain in northwestern Iraq, were attacked and decimated by ISIS in a matter of days, leaving the fleeing Christian inhabitants not only homeless but also internally displaced refugees (IDRs) in their own ancient land.

After having their lives threatened and facing the stark choice of either converting to the warped and extremist interpretation of Islam proselytised by ISIS, paying a heavy tax, or dying in large numbers (many by beheading), tens of thousands of men, women, children, the elderly and infirm fled.

And many of them fled on foot in the searing heat with little or no food, water or shelter — into Iraqi Kurdistan, mostly to Erbil and Duhok, seeking safety, security and asylum.

It is incumbent on all democratic peoples to aid the scattered Chaldean people who find themselves in such a desperate, stark life or death situation. Some are encouraging the displaced to return to their villages, and indeed they are always free to do so.

However, we must understand that people have chosen to leave their beloved homeland to reach safety and protect their families, even at the cost of their dignity.

Upon their return, the displaced would more often than not find their homes damaged, looted or destroyed by ISIS and their local allies.

The million-dollar question therefore is: What kind of future awaits the minority Chaldean and Assyrian Christian population of Iraq?

The people fleeing and begging for international asylum have spoken for themselves. It is now up to those in the democratic West led by the United States and Europe, together with the United Nations, to respond to this acute humanitarian crisis and crimes against humanity.

They need swift justice and human generosity.

What is needed is not short-term panacea or lip-service or promises but long-term institutional solutions overseen by the United Nations and aimed at protecting the human right to life of the minority Chaldea and Assyrian Christians, and their Yazidi neighbours.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s White House address to the nation on Wednesday night was very encouraging, to say the least.

As President Obama stated, the launching of “a steady, relentless effort” to root out the extremists from ISIS “wherever they exist” shall create the necessary security environment to bring about peace and stability.

It will undoubtedly create conducive conditions for the return of displaced minority Chaldean and Assyrian Christians and the Yazidi to their homes in Nineveh province they have inhabited for over two thousand years.

The future of a united Iraq depends on maintaining peace, stability and economic prosperity for all the peoples inhabiting this ancient land.

Ensuring that the spirit of tolerance and cohabitation deepens and thrives is part and parcel of any such long-term structural solution.

It is imperative that policymakers in Washington, DC, New York and at the United Nations and in western European capitals take this long-term vision on board and act accordingly with adequate resources made available.

It is then, and only then, that the plight of the minority Chaldean and Assyrian Christians and other minorities can be addressed in a truly meaningful fashion in a future peaceful, multi-religious, multi-ethnic and economically prosperous Iraq.

Failure to do so will only see a recurrence of the tragic events unfolding in Iraq and Syria, further compounding the destitution, misery and desperation of millions of human beings caught up in the mayhem being unleashed by armed terrorists.

Edited by Kitty Stapp.

Assyrian International News Agency

Reporter in Iraq: There Are Already US Boots on the Ground

By , September 12, 2014 5:32 pm

Reporter in Iraq: There Are Already US Boots on the Ground
By: Susan Jones on: 12.09.2014 [15:35 ] (82 reads)

Reporter in Iraq: There Are Already US Boots on the Ground

By Susan Jones

September 12, 2014 “ICH” – “CNSNews” – - (CNSNews.com) – NBC News Correspondent Richard Engel, reporting live from Kurdistan in northern Iraq Wednesday night, said U.S. troops are on the ground in Iraq and avoiding reporters.
“I know there are already American boots on the ground where I am now,” Engel told MSNBC. “They are not necessarily firing their rifles or kicking down doors, and we’re not going on embeds with these troops.

“They are troops who are staying away from reporters, they are embedded with local fighters trying to guide in air strikes, gathering intelligence — the kind of thing you would have thought the Green Berets would have done many years ago, and which are now being done by Navy SEALS and Delta Force and other Special Operations Forces.

“Can you conduct a secret war like this, a war by remote control to dislodge ISIS, to dislodge this terrorist group, this militant murderous group from large parts of Iraq and large parts of Syria? We will see. It is an open question.”

Engel, speaking after President Obama addressed the nation, said the first part of Obama’s speech was “very clear” — he “wants to carry out air strikes to kill enemies who harm the United States,” like what he’s doing in Somalia and Yemen.

But, Engel added, “The rest of the strategy seemed incredibly fuzzy — how there was going to be this international coalition that would lend its moral support of Sunni countries, that you would have to rebuild the Iraqi army, which has lost a tremendous amount of credibility so far; and that you would work with all of these local partners on the ground.

The problem is, there aren’t many local partners:

There are some in northern Iraq, the Kurds. “But in Syria, there aren’t any local partners; they’re fictitious partners that he’s talking about,” Engel said.

“In Iraq, below where I am right now, there is the Iraqi army, which has disintegrated and has not been an effective partner right now.” Moreover, Engel said the Sunni villages are afraid of the Iraqi army and don’t want it to come into their villages, so America’s “partner on the ground” in many cases is a reason that people support ISIS in the first place.

“So aside from the very specific idea of sending in Special Operations, sending in some drones, the rest of the strategy seems quite unclear,” Engel concluded.

In his speech Wednesday night, President Obama said the military action he is ordering “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Obama said the counter-terrorism campaign “will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist, using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground.”

Obama also admitted that “there are risks involved, especially to the servicemen and women who carry out these missions.”

Copyright 1998-2014. Cybercast News Service.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article39642.htm

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