06/30/2014, 00.00
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In the conquered territories of Syria and Iraq, ISIS crucifies its enemies, proclaims Caliphate

Islamist militia is using the cross, a Christian symbol, to terrorise Islamist rivals and enemies. Over the weekend, an Islamic state is proclaimed with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as caliph, rejects "democracy and other garbage from the West". Synod of bishops calls for peace and national unity.

Baghdad (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The latest terrible news from the war zones of the Middle East clearly show that Islamist militant group ISIS is pursuing a strategy of terror, and that it is doing so by using the cross, a Christian symbol, to terrorise its internal and external enemies in order to establish a new Islamic state, the Caliphate, and assert control over the territories of Syria and Iraq it controls.

Over the weekend, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), a Jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, proclaimed the Caliphate in the territories it occupies in Syria and Iraq. The leader of the Islamist movement, Abu Bakr al-Baghdad, will become 'Caliph' and "leader of Muslims around the world."

The announcement was preceded by the crucifixion of nine people. The victims include eight men belonging to more moderate groups, crucified in the town square of Deir Hafer in eastern Aleppo, an area under ISIS control. ISIL also crucified another man in the province in al-Bab town near the Turkish border, as a punishment for giving false testimony.

As the international Jihadist movement pursues its plans to set up a "Caliphate" based on a strict application of Sharia or Islamic Law, it is creating a new entity that would radically alter the territorial arrangements created by Great Britain and France in 20th century, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire.

The new state would stretch from Aleppo, in north-western Syria, to the province of Diyala in eastern Iraq.

Calling himself Caliph Ibrahim, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi named himself supreme leader of the new state, rejecting "democracy and other garbage from the West."

For their part, Iraqi forces have launched an offensive to regain control of Tikrit, north of Baghdad, which has been held by Islamists since 11 June.

Russia has sent a first batch of fighter jets to help the Baghdad government in the fight against militants.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the creation of an independent Kurdish state in response to gains made by Sunni insurgents in Iraq.

Earlier, Iraqi Kurd leader Massoud Barzani had told US media that "the time is here for the Kurdistan people to determine their future".

In the context of war and deeper divisions marked by bloodshed, the Iraqi Chaldean Church held its Synod on 24-28 June in Erbil, northern Iraq.

The meeting was initially scheduled to take place in Baghdad, but was moved to a more secure and protected location, at least so far, far from possible Islamist attacks.

At the end of their assembly, the prelates released an official statement in which they called on Iraqi leaders to preserve national unity between all of the country's regions.

They also called for "dialogue" as the only way to bring the country out of its "long tunnel" and avert civil war or internal divisions.

The bishops also turned their thoughts to the thousands of Christian and non-Christian families displaced from towns and villages, and now living in a perilous situation.

Given the situation, they urged Iraq's political leaders to set up a national unity government that would achieve stability and security as well as provide basic services at this crucial juncture, which coincides with Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting and prayer.

The prelates also called on the international community to help Iraq find a "political solution" to the crisis and prevent the country's implosion.

They equally made a plea to God to "save Iraq and the Iraqi people."

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