WSJ- Islamic State Prevents Civilians from Fleeing Ramadi
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The image we find this week, the first week of December 2015, is Iraqi forces preparing themselves for combat against the Islamic State as the allied Sunni volunteer tribal fighters supported by the U.S. tighten the siege of Ramadi, Iraq. What is happening is, the Iraqi forces are warning their civilians to get out of the country as they, supported by the U.S., plan to initiate an operation to recapture the Islamic State’s stronghold in the city. What ISIS is doing though, is forcing, threatening, and killing any civilians who attempt to flee as they were directed. By keeping the civilians captive in their own city, which is under siege of their own Iraqi military, ISIS is using the civilians as “human shields” to hide themselves from the U.S. and Iraqi assault.
“ISIS is encircling us from all sides preventing us from leaving the city,” said one resident. “We are desperate now. We can’t do anything…We have sick people with no medicine and there is no food to eat.” Islamic state snipers have cut off the government issued civilian evacuation point at the southern end of Ramadi.
The purpose of this operation, as proposed by the U.S. and Iraq, is to keep heavy pursuit of the Islamic State after the Beirut and Paris attacks. “U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter signaled Tuesday that the U.S. will boost its special operations force in Iraq to conduct raids in both Iraq and Syria. The U.S. is assembling a specialized ‘expeditionary’ force in Iraq to assist Iraqi and Kurdish forces as well as to conduct raids, gather intelligence, rescue hostages and go after Islamic State leaders. Islamic State’s seizure of Ramadi dealt a blow to the Iraqi government and the allied international coalition. Since then, the government has made several announcements of an imminent assault to retake the city and surrounding province. (WSJ view the full article here).”
“Despite nearly two days of leaflets warning civilians to flee, few are now leaving the city”, said Mr. Essawi, the Anbar provincial council member. Limited internet, shaky cellphone service and extremist fighters who prowl the streets have severely constrained communication with residents (WSJ view the full article here).
The situation for the people of Ramadi is very difficult and until they are liberated from their own city it will continue to grow worse. Please join in prayer for those who have lost their lives in this situation and for those who are struggling to stay alive.
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HOW YOU CAN HELP IN DEFENSE OF REFUGEES
We invite you to share with the Orthodox Christian Network substantive philanthropies that are coming to the aid of all that are persecuted. Notable is the IOCC (International Orthodox Christian Charities) whom “in the spirit of Christ’s love, offers emergency relief and development programs to those in need worldwide, without discrimination, and strengthens the capacity of the Orthodox Church to so respond”. The IOCC has undertaken significant initiatives to help save Syria’s children whom are displaced or living as refugees. Notably 92% of every dollar donated to the IOCC “directly helps those affecting dire situations.”
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An additional notable philanthropy is “The Barnabas Fund’s Operation Safe Havens“ program which has pressed governments to issue visas to persecuted Christians, on condition that the organization will foot their expenses. Operation Safe Havens was featured in an August 20, 2015, editorial in the Wall Street Journal by Robert R. Reilly, director of the Westminster Institute in McLean, Va.
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