Iraq leader: Dark future ahead for region’s Christians

Even though the U.S. military has begun targeted airstrikes against the Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS, religious minorities threatened by the terrorists remain on edge.

Emanuel Khoshaba, the Secretary General of the Assyrian Patriotic Party, told there is a “dark future” ahead for Iraqi Christians.

Khoshaba’s political party represents ethnic Assyrians who make up less than three percent to five percent of the Iraqi population.

The threat in late July by ISIS in Mosul for Christians to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax or face execution frightened those in the region.

Extremists, he said, have forced many Christians to flee their villages to “safer cities” Irbil and Duhok for protection. “They are displaced and have to sleep on the streets and they don’t have any of their [belongings] … the region has limited humanitarian assistance.”

Khoshaba has tried to help those displaced, with 30 families taking refuge with him. He said they were in bad shape and “when they reached [us] they were hungry and thirsty.”

While Kurdish forces are trying to push back militants, “they don’t have the weapons needed to defend their region,” said Khoshaba. He hopes airstrikes will force the militants to withdraw and allow those trapped to escape further into Kurdish territory.

Khoshaba said the U.S. and international community must help protect religious minorities or “otherwise there is no hope for our people.”