- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 7, 2014

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terrorists have taken over churches in northern Iraq, yanked down crosses, burned manuscripts and sent thousands of Christians fleeing with little more than the clothes on their backs.

“[The Christians] have fled with nothing but their clothes, some of them on foot, to reach the Kurdistan region,” Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako told Agence France-Presse, according to the Telegraph. “This is a humanitarian disaster. The churches are occupied, their crosses were taken down.”

He also said that up to 1,500 Christian-related manuscripts and church documents were burned, The Telegraph reported.

The United Nations reported that as many as 200,000 Christians have fled the persecution.

“We’re just receiving the information right now,” David Swanson, a spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told Reuters. “We’ve just heard that people over the last 24 hours have been extracted and the U.N. is mobilizing resources to ensure that these people are assisted on arrival. [This is] a tragedy of immense proportions.”

Pope Francis, meanwhile, has called on the international community to help the Christians in Iraq. ISIL terrorists last overran Qaraqosh, Iraq’s largest Christian town.