U.S. President Barack Obama offered the following observations in a White House statement in relation to Christmas 2015: "During this season of Advent, Christians in the United States and around the world are preparing to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. At this time, those of us fortunate enough to live in countries that honor the birthright of all people to practice their faith freely give thanks for that blessing. Michelle and I are also ever mindful that many of our fellow Christians do not enjoy that right, and hold especially close to our hearts and minds those who have been driven from their ancient homelands by unspeakable violence and persecution."
In some areas of the Middle East where church bells have rung for centuries on Christmas Day, this year they will be silent; this silence bears tragic witness to the brutal atrocities committed against these communities by ISIL, stated Obama.
He said, "We join with people around the world in praying for God's protection for persecuted Christians and those of other faiths, as well as for those brave men and women engaged in our military, diplomatic, and humanitarian efforts to alleviate their suffering and restore stability, security, and hope to their nations.
As the old Christmas carol reminds us: The Wrong shall fail, The Right prevail, With peace on earth, good-will to men."
This supportive statement was issued just before reports that Iraq's military is just about a mile away from the ISIS-held government compound in Ramadi in Iraq's battle to retake the city from the terrorist group, a spokesman for the Joint Iraqi Operations Command said. CNN reports Thursday that with the help of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, Iraqi forces are on the second day of a coordinated attack on Ramadi, a city about 70 miles west of Baghdad and the capital of Anbar province.
ISIS took control of Ramadi in May after a year of fighting there, spurring tens of thousands of civilians to flee. Yet, tens of thousands of civilians remain in Ramadi, and "ISIS is surrounding them and preventing them from leaving," said Hikmet Suleiman, an adviser to the governor of Anbar province.
Now the Iraqi flag has been hoisted over two recaptured Ramadi neighborhoods, Iraq's Joint Operations Command said in the CNN report.
The presence of Iraqi forces around Ramadi is "like a boa constrictor, a squeezing of ISIL out of that city," Warren said, using another name for ISIS with CNN.
He credits the yearlong U.S. training of Iraqi security forces for the successful advances.