Rescuers dug with their bare hands Monday through the debris of buildings brought down by a powerful earthquake that killed more than 400 people in the once-contested mountainous border region between Iraq and Iran, with nearly all of the victims in an area rebuilt since the end of the ruinous 1980s war.
Sunday night’s magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck about 19 miles outside the eastern Iraqi city of Halabja, according to the most recent measurements from the U.S. Geological Survey. It hit at 9:48 p.m. Iran time, just as people were going to bed.
The worst damage appeared to be in the Kurdish town of Sarpol-e-Zahab in the western Iranian province of Kermanshah, which sits in the Zagros Mountains that divide Iran and Iraq…. read more
A Bomb Confirms the Calling of a Pastor in Baghdad
The man has just left his home, hopping into his car, turning the keys in the ignition, and pushing the accelerator as he had so many times before. Only this time, as he began the familiar journey toward the church where he worked as a pastor, he immediately sensed something was different.
Almost right away, an explosion ripped through the car, violently shaking the vehicle and—at the same time—engulfing it in the flames.
“I was totally confused, and I couldn’t see anymore.” The young pastor, named Joseph, remembers.
Though disoriented and in shock, he could hear a woman’s hysterical voice piercing his ears. “This man is dying!” She screamed.
“This is it.” Pastor Joseph resolved. “I am dying.”… read more
Powerful Testimony, God is Amazing!
Aid worker and former U.S. special forces soldier David Eubank, 56, was captured on video heroically saving a young girl in Mosul, Iraq, by running through ISIS gunfire.
Eubank made the brave decision to run though the gunfire after he spotted what appeared to be two live children among a heap of civilians murdered by ISIS snipers.
“There was a woman sprawled on her face. Dead,” said Eubank. “A baby, all shot up. Dead. Near them, two old people. Dead. And then you realize all those lumps of rags were kids. Dead dead dead.”
“Then, in the distance, Eubank noticed movement among a group of corpses clustered before a wall pocked by bullets: A half-naked toddler stumbled over the bodies; a girl of about 5 peeked from under the hijab of her dead mother; propped up against the wall, a wounded man waved for help,” explains the LA Times… read more
Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., has given President Trump a grand opportunity to do something he has yet to do in his first months in office: make significant progress on religious freedom for persecuted Christians and other religious minorities around the world. With the recent passage of the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act (HR 390) by the House of Representatives, the President is well-positioned to make a bold move to stabilize the region.
If passed by the Senate, the Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act will provide relief to those victimized by the ongoing genocide, human rights violations and war crimes by terrorist groups. But it is perhaps the secondary effects of this bill that will lead to the most powerful and lasting impact.
HR 390 allows the U.S. to assist in the reestablishment of Christian, Yazidi and other minority communities in the Middle East, which are central to the survival of a pluralistic and open society—a giant slap in the face to the stated goal of ISIS to drive out all those who do not embrace their savage ideology. It also gives hundreds of thousands of refugees the opportunity to return to their homes instead of seeking refugee status in the West or risking dangerous journeys to enter Europe in desperation. And to be sure, as we often witness firsthand at Open Doors through our work on the ground in Iraq and Syria, many Christians wish to remain in their homeland and would do so if they had not lost hope after years without resources, as the world turns a blind eye to their plight… read more
Dave Eubank says he knew the odds were against him.
“ISIS fire was intense as we approached the huddled group of three survivors,” Eubank recalled in an Instagram post.
On June 1, Eubank, an ex-U.S. Army Special Forces soldier who runs a Christian humanitarian organization called Free Burma Rangers, got a call from an Iraqi unit that was fighting ISIS on the frontlines west of Mosul, Iraq.
“They said civilians coming, a lot (of them) shot,” Eubank told CNN.
He and members of the Free Burma Rangers are in Iraq helping civilians flee from ISIS-held areas.
The team jumped into action after they got the call…. read more
Washington – President Donald Trump will remove Iraq from a list of countries targeted in a US travel ban when he is expected to sign a new executive order on Monday after his controversial first attempt was blocked in the courts, a White House source said.
The senior White House official said the new executive order would keep a 90-day ban on travel to the United States by citizens of six Muslim-majority nations – Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Iraq was taken off the list of countries in the original order, issued on Jan. 27, because the Iraqi government had imposed new vetting procedures, such as heightened visa screening and data sharing, and because of its work with the United States in countering Islamic State militants, the official said…. [read more]
By Ulf Laessing and Maher Chmaytelli | MOSUL/BAGHDAD, IRAQ
Fighting between Iraqi troops and Islamic State militants has cut water supplies across a large part of Mosul, where poorer families are already struggling to feed themselves, and a local official said the increasingly encircled city was in crisis.
Water was cut to 650,000 people – or 40 percent of residents – when a pipeline was hit during fighting between the jihadists and U.S.-backed Iraqi government forces trying to crush them in their northern Iraq stronghold, a local official said.
“We are facing a humanitarian catastrophe,” said Hussam al-Abar, a member of Mosul’s Nineveh provincial council, adding that 1.5 million people were still inside Mosul. He said the pipeline ran through a contested part of the city and could not be reached by repair teams.
“Basic services such as water, electricity, health, food are non-existent,” he said, standing in an eastern suburb while mortars were fired inside the city.
The battle for Mosul has already raged for six weeks. An alliance of Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led air power, have surrounded it and elite troops have seized eastern districts, but face deadly and determined resistance…. [read more]
The ongoing operation in Mosul, Iraq, is taking its toll on US troops, with 16 killed and 27 wounded, according to a military source in Moscow cited by TASS. The US Department of Defense has told RT America it is only aware of one casualty.
“During the first two weeks of the ground operation to capture Mosul, 16 American servicemen lost their lives, 27 more sustained various wounds,” the source told TASS. The majority of the losses were due to “land mine explosions, artillery and mortar shelling.”
In certain cases, however, poor coordination between ground troops and air support was reportedly to blame for those killed or injured. “Two special operations soldiers died following airstrikes by US B-52H jets on Mosul suburbs,” the source said…. [read more]
“As I was an adviser in Vietnam it’s very high risk sometimes to be out with these units and of course if these units come under attack by ISIS forces and others there is going to be casualties, there is no doubt about it,” Vallely said.