Baghdad (AsiaNews) - The Kurdish peshmerga forces, backed by US air strikes, have launched a new offensive against the militia of the Islamic State in Kirkuk, a town in northern Iraq's oil-rich and strategically important province. The peshmerga are advancing from the south-west towards the center, to crush the jihadist militias who, in recent weeks, had carried out numerous attacks in the area and throughout the province.
The Islamists have also sent new fighters to the city of Tikrit, in an attempt to halt the advance of the Iraqi army and Shiite militias, engaged in the offensive to recapture the hometown of former dictator Saddam Hussein. For this several jihadists have left Mosul, a stronghold of the Islamic State, headed towards Tikrit.
In a situation of continued violence and terror, the conditions of the Iraqi civilian population is worsening dramatically. They are hostage to a bloody conflict with and increasingly uncertain outcome.
The Chaldean patriarch appeals to the Iraqi government and the international community, denouncing a "humanitarian catastrophe" that "can no longer be relegated to silence". Mar Sako invokes an urgent meeting of the government and parliament, to discuss the current situation and implement the necessary actions to face a reality that "is likely to go from bad to worse."
Here, below, the Chaldean Patriarchate's appeal sent to AsiaNews:
The Chaldean Patriarchate expresses its deep concern regarding the situation of the innocent civilians within the conflict areas in the region. The so-called "organism of the Islamic State" is burning everything: human beings, stones and civilization. On the other hand, as the Iraqi army beside mobilized populations Alhashid alsha'bi , is in the process of liberating the occupied areas, this has in consequence displaced thousands of families and their emigration towards an unknown future, without having on-site an organized plan to rescue them.
This being said, we strongly call to the central government in the country and the international community in order to act as soon as possible for the protection of innocent civilians and to offer them the necessary assistance in lodging, food and medications; as well as taking care of thousands of students of universities and schools.
As Christians, we experienced this tragedy, during the deportation of our people in Mosul and the cities of the plain of Nineveh; our suffering is still continuing being far from our homes.
This is obviously a human catastrophe that cannot suffer any silence. This situation when it is prolonging, will be difficult to control and will leave negative and bad tragic impacts on the long term.
Therefore, we would urge the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly deputies, in order to consider the emergency need for an extraordinary meeting to discuss this situation that threatens to deteriorate from bad to worse.
* Patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans and president of the Bishops' Conference of Iraq