15,000 Assyrians Have Fled Mosul in the Last Two Weeks
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Mosul (AINA) -- Officials in Mosul have told AINA the number of Assyrians driven out of Mosul in the past two weeks has risen to 15,000, or about 2500 families. Threats, intimidation and murder by unidentified groups have instilled fear and panic in the Christian Assyrian community, causing a massive exodus into the Assyrian villages in the Nineveh Plain. Thirteen Assyrians have been killed in the past four weeks. At least three Assyrians homes were bombed on Saturday. Notes have been left instructing the Assyrians to leave the city immediately or face reprisal.

It is not clear who is behind the campaign against Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs). Some suspect Al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups, but yesterday a spokesman for Iraq's Interior Ministry said there is no evidence to support this (AINA 10-16-2008). An Iraqi member of parliament has accused the Kurds of orchestrating the campaign to shift the demographic balance of Mosul in their favor (AINA 10-12-2008).

The Assyrian Aid Society, a humanitarian aid organization based in north Iraq with its main office in the city of Dohuk, has called for aid in dealing with the humanitarian crisis.

The European Union issued a statement yesterday condemning the attacks against the Assyrian community (AINA 10-15-2008). The Assyrian Universal Alliance sent a letter to Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nations, requesting UN protection for the Assyrians of Iraq.

Iraq has pledged to protect the Assyrian community and has sent 1000 police officers into the city (AINA 10-12-2008); they have set up checkpoints and are patrolling the city on foot. Two investigative units have been formed, one criminal and one security, to probe the attacks on the Assyrian community.

A protest was held in southern Baghdad today to denounce the violence against the Assyrians. Dozens of Assyrians and Arab tribal leaders condemned the violence in Mosul. Mostapha Kamel, the Secretary General of the national council for tribes and awakening leaders council, expressed solidarity with Assyrians.

The latest violence against Assyrians in Mosul continues a pattern that began on June 26, 2004 with the first bombings of Assyrian churches (report). Since then, Baghdad has been nearly emptied of Assyrians and it is estimated that 30-50% of Assyrians have fled to Jordan and Syria (report).

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