Iraqi prelate calls for aid amid Mosul invasion

Citizens flee Islamist takeover

A Christian prelate in Iraq has issued an urgent appeal for aid for some 500,000 people who fled Mosul ahead of an Islamist takeover.

Chaldean ArchbishopShimoun Emil Nona of Mosul warned this week that the supplies of food and water citizens of the city were able to carry as they fled the arrival of fighters of the militant grouping, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), would soon run out, leading to a desperate situation.

"People are terrified,” the archbishop said. “Almost all of the Christians have fled and many Muslims have also left their homes. Many have fled.”

Describing the current situation as “very difficult”, Archbishop Nona related how during the night of June 9 and 10, panic gripped the population within a few hours of learning that ISIS was nearing Mosul, a situation made the more fearful as soldiers and police fled en masse ahead of the invading fighters.

Now in full control of the second largest city of Iraq, ISIS has rattled the government. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki responded to the city’s invasion by urging parliament to declare a state of emergency while vowing to cooperate fully with leaders in the autonomous Kurdish region in the north towards countering the threat posed by ISIS.

A former affiliate of Al Qaeda, ISIS (also known as ISIL -Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant), flourished during the years of American occupation in Iraq before turning its attention to the conflict in Syria. There, despite frequent clashes with rebel groupings opposed to its extreme Islamist outlook and the loss of al Qaeda support, the group has maintained a hold on territory in the north of the country across the border from Mosul.

On June 11, it was reported that fighters of the group had demolished a border post in a symbolic gesture uniting its territories in Syria and Iraq.