ISIS members marched into a Syrian town Friday evening demanding that all crosses be removed from the churches or have the buildings be completely destroyed, according to the Assyrian Patriotic Party.
Two trucks carrying 20 armed ISIS members stormed into the predominantly Assyrian town of Tel Hormizd in Hassakeh and forced the residents to remove the cross from the main church tower. Hassakeh, an area made up of five Assyrian villages, is locatedd on the Khabur River.
ISIS militants threatened to bomb the church if the cross was not removed.
“We are calling on the world to stop this next genocide of Christians in Iraq and Syria,” Emanuel Khoshaba, Secretary General of the Assyrian Patriotic Party, said to LisaDaftari.com in a phone interview.
“If the world doesn’t stop these barbarians, no minority groups can live safely in the region. ”
The attack was the fourth one in Tel Hormizd. In October, ISIS abducted three Assyrian men.
The Islamic State has desecrated Churches and Christian graveyards in wholesale fashion in both Iraq and Syria. In July ISIS militants set fire to a 1,800-year-old church in the second largest Iraqi city of Mosul.
“ISIS wants to make sure that Sharia Law is the rule of all the areas in Syria and Iraq and that all Christians follow it,” Gen. Khoshaba said.
“We Christians are facing a very dangerous situation in both Iraq and Syria, but no one hears us, and there is no offer for help,” he said.
Meanwhile Kurdish fighters from the Peoples Protection Units (YPG) and the Kurdistan Region’s Peshmerga forces were successful in defeating and driving out ISIS militants from the Syrian border town of Kobane last week after 133 days of intense conflict.
Over the weekend Secretary of State John Kerry said in interviews that pushing ISIS out of Kobane was “a big deal,” and that the radical group was “forced to acknowledge its own defeat.”
According to the Assyrian military forces, there are still some Christian-majority cities in Syria that are autonomous, but in Iraq, all Christian cities are in the hands of ISIS.
“Defeat in one city does not mean victory against these terrorists. The Islamic State has strongholds all over,” Gen. Khoshaba said in reaction to news that ISIS was defeated in Kobane.
Threats and intimidation targeted against Christian communities in Iraq and Syria are pushing people to emigrate from these areas where minority faiths have lived for thousands of years.
At least 10 families leave each day, according to Gen. Khoshaba, relocating to Turkey, Lebanon, parts of Europe, Australia and the U.S.