Last few Iraqi Christians flee violence and threats in Mosul as Isis continues its takeover

Ancient Iraqi Christian communities have been expelled following a decree by Isis that they must either convert to Islam, pay a tax or die

Thefts and ultimatums have been directed at Christians in the Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul as radical insurgents tighten their grip on it.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) wrestled control of the northern Iraqi city on 10 June in an attempt to carve out a Sunni caliphate.

Large swathes of Christian and Iraqi property has been seized by the militant group as it grows its governance in the aim of making Mosul the capital of its new Islamic state.

One of the properties seized by militants, the ancient Catholic Mar Behnam Monastery located 15 miles south of Mosul, was a place of pilgrimage and an important Christian landmark.

However on Sunday, it was seized by Isis fighters and its monks expelled, who were permitted only to take the clothes they were wearing.

Last week, the extremists gave Christians in Mosul three options: either convert to Islam, pay a special tax or be killed.

They gave a deadline of Saturday 19 July, which led to a mass exodus of Iraqi Christians – communities that had had 2,000-year-old links to the country – on Friday, Al Arabiya News reports.

Though a number of Christians – a religious minority in Iraq – had already fled the city after hard-line Isis captured it last month, for many the ultimatum was the final straw. The city is now said to be all but clear of Christians.


Iraqi Christians who have fled the violence say that they had to either leave most of their belongings behind or have it stolen by armed militants.

“We had to go through an area where they had set up a checkpoint,” Zaid Qreqosh Ishaq, 27, said of his family, as he explained they were on their way to the relatively safe region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

“[The militants] asked us to get out of the car. We got out. They took... our things, our bags, our money, everything we had on us.”

READ MORE: Time runs out for Christian Iraq
Isis' genocidal intentions take on horrible clarity
Assad fights Isis for control of Shaer gas field

At least 400 Christian families are making their way to Dohuk and Arbil, the UN said, with Arbil’s governor, Nawzad Hadi, promising to protect the refugees.

Noel Ibrahim, who also fled the crackdown, said Isis gunmen stopped cars as they tried to leave and stole cash and jewellery from the women.

“One of the gunmen told us 'You can leave now, but do not ever dream of returning to Mosul again’,” Mr Ibrahim said.

Video: Isis 'recruitment video'

The number of Christians in Iraq began to decrease after the 2003 US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein, which resulted in sectarian violence swelling.

The militants are using newly-seized oil fields to fund their new state, Reuters reports, transporting the resource to mobile refineries in Syria before selling the gasoline back in Mosul.

The group has taken over the Najma, Qayara, Himreen and Ajil fields, though many of the wells are thought to be sealed and not pumping.

Larger shipments of crude oil are also being sold to Turkish traders via smugglers.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Weekend Factory Operatives

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer is curr...

Recruitment Genius: FP&A Analyst

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A market leading acquirer and m...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fully qualified electricians re...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific