Muslim extremist group Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) continue to torture, kill, and displace Christians residing in Iraq, determined to snuff out followers of Christ.
Last month, terrorist leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, or Caliph Ibrahim, issued an ultimatum, saying that Christians in that part of the former territory of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon which he has declared to be an Islamic Caliphate were to convert to Islam, face the sword, flee the country or have their property seized and pay the tax levied against dhimmis.
This ultimatum was broadcast from loudspeakers and placed on the internet and heard throughout around the whole world: "We offer them three choices: Islam; the dhimma contract - involving payment of Jizya; if they refuse this they will have nothing but the sword."
Sadly, while very little has been done thus far in response to such religious and human rights abuses in Iraq, President Obama recently authorized targeted air strikes against Islamic militants, as the US military began an airborne operation to bring relief to thousands of religious minorities, including Christians, driven to a mountain-top refuge.
On Thursday, the president said he had authorized limited air strikes to help Iraqi forces, to assist in the fight to break the siege and protect the civilians trapped there.
"When we face a situation like we do on that mountain, with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale and we have a mandate to help - in this case a request from the Iraqi government - and when we have unique capabilities to act to avoid a massacre, I believe the United States cannot turn a blind eye," the president said in a late-night statement from the White House.
"Earlier this week, one Iraqi said no-one is coming to help. Well, today America is coming to help," he said.
Las month, warning that "Iraq will come face to face with human, civil, and historic catastrophe," Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako has written a letter "to the people of conscience and good will in Iraq and the world" in which he describes the dire situation in which Iraqi Christians find themselves.
"The control exercised by the Islamist Jihadists upon the city of Mosul, and their proclamation of it as an Islamic State, after several days of calm and expectant watching of events, has now come to reflect negatively upon the Christian population of the city and its environs," the patriarch reported in his July 17 letter. "The only alternative is to abandon the city and their houses with only the clothes they are wearing, taking nothing else. Moreover, by Islamic law, upon their departure, their houses are no longer their properties but are instantly confiscated as property of the Islamic state."
He also stated that ISIS forces had started marking the homes of Christians in Mosul with the Arabic letter "N," for "Nazara" (Christian). "We do not know what will happen in future days because in an Islamic state the Al-sharia or Islamic code of law is powerful and has been interpreted to require the issuance of new I.Ds for the population based on religious or sectarian affiliation," Patriarch Sako wrote.
Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona, said in a statement that they supported the effort, but that the actions "are far from sufficient to meet the growing threat" posed by the Islamic State.
"The president is right to provide humanitarian relief to the Iraqi civilians stranded on Mount Sinjar and to authorize military strikes," they said. But "we need a strategic approach, not just a humanitarian one."
"A policy of containment will not work" against the militants, they said, calling for airstrikes not just in Iraq, but also in Syria and for supplying more weapons to the Kurds and Syrian forces who are fighting the militants. "The longer we wait to act, the worse this threat will become, as recent events clearly show."