France Assyrians rally to warn about another exodus

Ramin Mazaheri, Press TV, Paris Fact Corner
Iraq’s Assyrian community endured a genocide, during the first World War, and a mass exodus, during the second Persian Gulf War. Assyrian expatriates have now rallied in France’s capital Paris to warn that the ISIL militants in Iraq could deliver a fatal blow to the region’s ancient Christian community.

According to most verifiable accounts, the militants who have swept across eastern Syria and western Iraq appear to have not engaged in widespread violence against the region’s Christians, known collectively as the Assyrians. But what is certain, is that tens of thousands of Christian refugees have already fled the area, mostly to Kurdistan, as electricity, water and paid work is increasingly scarce.
Hundreds of France’s Assyrian community, numbering around 15,000 people, gathered to push France towards finding a peaceful solution to the many threats posed by the ISIL militants. The Assyrians have more than just the militants to contend with, as the Assyrian heartland east of Mosul is now under Kurdish control. Assyrian regions were ignored by Baghdad during the decades of UN-imposed sanctions, but the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to an even greater catastrophe, as nearly half of the 1.2 million Christian population fled the country. That rampant mistrust of the West has many Assyrians hoping that Russian President Vladimir Putin gets involved to protect the Assyrian Catholic Church, avoid another genocide and prevent another mass exodus of Assyrians from Iraq. The Assyrians have been resilient when confronted with adversity in the past, and they are mobilizing to defend themselves. But anti-Assad militants from Syria continue to commit bloodshed across the Middle East, sparking sectarian violence and trying to divide nations.