2014-10-28 14:56:00

Iraq peshmerga fighters head to Syria to fight IS militants

(Vatican Radio) Iraqi peshmerga fighters left Iraq for the besieged Syrian town of Kobani on Tuesday to help fellow Kurds in their battle against Islamic State militants.

U.S. warplanes have been bombing Islamic State positions near Kobani for weeks, but Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said air strikes alone would not be enough to repel the insurgents.

The town has been encircled by Islamic State fighters for more than a month.

Meanwhile, scores of Christians in Iraq have been displaced since the summer amid the Islamic extremist group’s violent campaign to take control of the region.

John Pontifex, spokesman for the Catholic humanitarian agency, Aid to the Church in Need, was part of a team sent to northern Iraq to assess the situation on the ground, and put together a project plan whereby to provide aid where it is most needed.

“The prevailing theme was that these were the people who really believed they had a future in North Iraq,” Pontifex told Vatican Radio, adding that the Christians from the Nineveh Plains and Mosul had “really wanted to stay the course if at all possible.”

Listen to Ann Schneible’s interview with ACN’s

“There was a great deal of sadness and a great deal of pain, and a real confusion about what the future held for them.”

The Catholic aid agency has put together a 4 million euro program to offer support for Christians in the region. The project includes providing temporary homes and schools, Christmas gifts for children, Mass stipends for Chaldean and Syrian Catholic priests, and support for seminarians.

 Pontifex recounted the story of a seminarian named Martin from Karamlish, who was tasked with removing the Blessed Sacrament from a Church for the last time before fleeing along with a number of elderly priests.

Being among the last to escape Karamlish, Pontifex said, “they do feel that they are living witnesses to the persecution that Christians have suffered, and indeed other minorities have suffered.”

All the contents on this site are copyrighted ©.