MOSCOW, July 22 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow is concerned over persecutions of Christians living in the north-west of Iraq by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.
“Moscow is deeply concerned that ISIS militants are persecuting religious minorities living in the north-west of Iraq, forcing thousands of Christians and representatives of other confessions to abandon their traditional places of residence. We believe that such aggressive and systematic actions of Islamist radicals in relation to certain groups of Iraqi society based on religious hatred are completely unacceptable and should be considered criminal,” the statement said.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry believes that jihadists’ attempts to ignite inter-confessional conflicts have to be countered.
“We call on all responsible representatives of the world community to do everything possible to avoid inter-ethnic and inter-religious fighting, support Iraqi government efforts at getting control of the country and resolving all the existing conflicts in the framework of dialogue and mutual respect,” the statement added.
According to Russia’s Foreign Ministry, when ISIS took control of Mosul in the north-west of the country, militants presented Christians with an ultimatum. They were given a choice of converting to Islam, paying the tax for non-Muslims or leaving their homes. After the given deadline militants started violent actions and hundreds of Christian families had to flee their homes.
The ISIS is a Sunni group that has been fighting in Syria against the country’s president, Bashar Assad, and launched an offensive in Iraq in June, taking over large parts of the country, with the goal of seizing Baghdad.
Last month, militants from ISIS announced establishing of a caliphate on Iraq-Syria border. The Islamist caliphate includes regions with Christians and other religious minorities.