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US, Iraq Had Warning 5 Days Ahead of Church Bombings
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Washington -- The bombing of the Virgin Fatima Church in Mosul, Iraq yesterday brings the total to seven churches bombed since this past Saturday evening. The attacks came even though Assyrian Christian (also known as Chaldean and Syriac) sources warned of the impending attacks days ago.

Assyrian sources received warnings of the impending attacks 5 days ago through text messages and immediately passed the information on to U.S. forces. Under new security arrangements, U.S. forces were unable to act themselves but ensured the Iraqi military was notified. Michael Youash, Project Director of the Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project, stated, "There was clearly a failure to take preventative steps by Iraqi and U.S. forces which allowed those planning the attacks to carry them out unimpeded."

The bombings come as Iraqi forces assume full control of Iraq's cities and towns under the Status of Forces Agreement and as U.S. withdrawal plans move ahead. Iraqi military and security forces are now guarding all churches, including in Nineveh Plain, which was also threatened with bombings. Two weeks ago (June 29th) in the Nineveh Plain, the district hospital located in Bakhdede was bombed killing 8.

It is becoming clear that as U.S. withdrawal plans move forward, and tensions between Kurds and Arabs escalate, the Assyrian people and other ethno-religious minorities will see greater deliberate targeting. This targeting is not new, and since 2003, an ethno-religious cleansing campaign has been waged against them. Not less than 1 in 3 Assyrian Christians has become a refugee and an even greater percentage are internally displaced --- most opting to seek safety and a future in the Nineveh Plain.

It is essential for the U.S. Government to develop a policy to save Iraq's defenseless ethno-religious minorities. "The formation of a distinct type of federal unit per Article 125 of the Iraqi Constitution, often referred to as the Nineveh Plain Administrative Unit, along with a substantial increase of formal Iraqi local police and security drawn from the minority communities being targeted, should be the cornerstones of a policy." said Youash. The United States Congress spelled-out and affirmed this policy direction on Thursday, July 9th, 2009 as they passed the FY 2010 State and Foreign Operations Appropriation which includes the budget for Iraq. "We hope everyone is listening to Congress' policy solutions, if not, the crisis will become irreversible."

Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project

The Iraq Sustainable Democracy Project's (ISDP) research and policy analysis maintains that the Assyrian (also known as Chaldean and/or Syriac) people and Iraq's other, real minorities (e.g. Turkmens, Shabaks, Yezidis, Mandaeans and others) are the best variable for leveraging the formation of a genuine and sustainable democracy over the long term. For the United States, Iraq's real minorities are also the truest 'moderates' as defined by the National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terror. As such, they are a key element in the fight against extremism in Iraq and the Middle East as a whole. ISDP works to ensure that these minorities are factored into policy development accordingly through research, policy analysis and advocacy for all relevant stakeholders.

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