AINA News
Iraq's Assyrians Under Fire

Ashti camp is full of displaced families with many young children. ( CNN)
(AINA) -- The population of Assyrians (also known as Chaldeans and Syriacs) in Iraq has plummeted from 1.5 million in 2004 to 300,000 today. This is the result of a low-grade genocide that began in 2004 and culminated with the ISIS invasion of Mosul and the Nineveh Plains, the last stronghold of Assyrians in Iraq. The invasion on August 7, 2014 caused 200,000 Assyrians to flee their homes in the Nineveh Plains, and most have not returned.

Related: Timeline of ISIS in Iraq
Related: Attacks on Assyrians in Syria By ISIS
Related: Incipient Genocide: The Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians of Iraq

The following photographic essay of Assyrians in the Ashti refugee camp was compiled by CNN.

Iraqi Christians displaced from their homes for more than two years attend church on a Sunday evening at a camp in Irbil. ( CNN)

Nearly 6,000 Christian Iraqis are living in a camp in the Kurdish city of Irbil after ISIS forced them from their hometowns. ( CNN)

Young Iraqis wait for communion outside a church in Irbils's Ashti camp. ( CNN)

Many families have decorated their temporary homes, made from shipping containers, with crosses, as if to signal their distress and show their resolve for their faith. ( CNN)

Boys help out in a carpentry shop at Ashti camp. The Christian families want to return home to rebuild, but many have lost hope for a decent future in Iraq. ( CNN)

An elderly woman keeps watch over her great-granddaughter at Ashti. She and her family fled Qaraqosh, Iraq's largest Christian city, when ISIS fighters took it over in August 2014. ( CNN)

Life goes on at Ashti camp, which has restaurants, coffee shops and stores. Here, a man gets a shave and a haircut at the local barber. ( CNN)

Raja Paulous, 46, right, runs a small grocery at Ashti camp. Back home in Qaraqosh, she had a grocery service and led a happy life. She can't find it in her heart to forgive ISIS for destroying her life. ( CNN)

People gather for service at Ashti camp as the sun goes down on a Sunday evening. ( CNN)

Christianity took hold in Iraq as early as the first century, but after decades of persecution, fewer than 300,000 Christians remained when ISIS entered Nineveh province. ( CNN)

The future of Christianity in Iraq is in peril after ISIS mowed through northern Iraq. Some say their religion is dead in the troubled nation. ( CNN)


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