(JNS.org) Jihadists from the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) terrorist group on Tuesday conquered parts of Iraq’s second-largest city–Mosul–causing thousands to flee, including dozens of Christian families.
Amid the attack, dozens of Christian families evacuated the city and headed to the Nineveh plains, an area controlled by the Kurdish “Peshmerga” forces, Fides News Agency reported. But several Christians who were unable to flee are now trapped in their homes.
Additionally, local Christian leaders, including Chaldean Bishop Amel Shamon Nona and other religious leaders, launched an appeal to keep churches open to pray for peace while encouraging local shops to remain open to allow people access to food and other basic items.
ISIL has gained considerable strength during its fighting in the Syrian civil war and has crossed over into Iraq. Earlier this year, it conquered Iraqi city of Fallujah, which was the site of some of the heaviest fighting during the U.S. war in Iraq.
Prior to 2003, Iraq’s Christian population stood at 1.5 million, but it has now shrunk all the way down to roughly 300,000.