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Christians Blocked By ISIS From Leaving 'Genocide' Syrian City of Raqqa

( [email protected] ) Apr 01, 2016 09:45 AM EDT
"Any Christian living within Syria or Iraq is in a very dangerous and precarious position," warned David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, a Christian advocacy organization.
Christians once accounted for up to 20 percent of the population in Syria, but recently, that number has been dwindled to 10 percent. The remaining 40-plus Christian families living in Raqqa now were banned by ISIS radicals from leaving the city limits. Reuters

"Any Christian living within Syria or Iraq is in a very dangerous and precarious position," warned David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA, a Christian advocacy organization.

Christian families remaining in the Islamic State (ISIS') Syrian stronghold of Raqqa now were forbidden from fleeing the city, according to a tweet from a secret group, Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered (RIBSS), that reports from inside the caliphate.

The activist group stated terrorist army officials issued a decree that any Christians or Armenians still within city limits may not leave. Fox News reports it is believed that there are at least 43 Christian families left in the city and that they have been forced to register with the extremist group and to pay a "jizya," or a minority tax in exchange for being unharmed. Also, they are banned from building or repairing churches, displaying Christian symbols and praying in public.

Christians once accounted for up to 20 percent of the population in Syria, but recently, that number has been dwindled to 10 percent.

Raqqa first fell into rebel control in March 2013 after a battle between Al Qaeda-linked jihadi group Al Nusra and Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's regime, becoming the first provincial capital under rebel control. ISIS has since used the city as a launching point to increase their caliphate, reports Fox News.

"The suffering of Christians began with ISIS control of Raqqa," RIBSS said on its website, according to news blog The Foreign Desk. "ISIS looks at Christians as infidels loyal to the West more than their loyalty to their homeland which they live."

Islamic extremism and authoritarian governments combined to make last year the worst in modern history for Christians around the world, according to a recent report from Open Doors USA. The trend spiked upward in the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with thousands of Christians killed or imprisoned, and even more chased from their homes. ISIS alone is responsible for driving out the entire Christian population in Mosul, long considered a Christian enclave in Iraq's Nineveh Plain.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. State Department officially declared a "genocide" designation regarding the treatment of religious minorities in Syria and Iraq.

"This is another chapter in the sad story of genocide in the region against Christians, apostates and other minorities," Ryan Mauro, national security analyst with The Clarion Project, told Fox News.

Tags : genocide, Syria, Raqqa, ISIS, Christians, Christian persecution, terrorism on religion, Open Doors USA, Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, RBISS, RBISS, Armenians, jizya, Bashar al-Assad, religious persecution, Islamic extremism, Islam