Some Iraqi Christians hopeful after US airstrikes near Mosul Dam

Smoke rises during airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants at the Mosul Dam outside Mosul, Iraq, Aug.18, 2014. (PHOTO:  VOA )
Smoke rises during airstrikes targeting Islamic State militants at the Mosul Dam outside Mosul, Iraq, Aug.18, 2014. (PHOTO: VOA)

Compiled from reports in Christian Telegraph and Fox News

Some Iraqi Christians are hopeful following multiple US airstrikes near the Mosul Dam. Previously an Islamic State (IS) stronghold, US bombardments keep loosening the terrorists’ grip, reports MNN.

“Around the dam area, there’s a lot more freedom. The families actually are filled with hope in that they might be able to return,” says Dyann Romeijn with Vision Beyond Borders (VBB) which is sending money to local churches which are unable to help Iraqi believers who lack food and other basic needs.

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“A lot of the homes have been destroyed; a lot of bombs and things like that [have fallen], so the areas still aren’t safe for them to return home. But at least they have hope that, eventually, they will be able to return home.”

According to the US Department of Defence, 96 airstrikes have been performed across Iraq since August 8. Of those attacks, 62 have been in areas near the Mosul Dam.

Right now, the US is searching for help from Iraq’s neighbors in the fight against ISIS. Speaking to reporters from a US military aircraft on Sunday (August 24), US General Martin Dempsey said defeating IS would take more than military strength. He mentioned a long-term strategy which would involve “reaching out” to Iraqi neighbors Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey.

2nd American killed fighting with ISIS
Meanwhile Fox News reports that a second American reportedly killed fighting with the Islamic State group in Syria has been identified as Abdirahmaan Muhumed, of Minneapolis, two sources told Fox News late Wednesday.

KMSP-TV in Minneapolis reported that Muhumed was killed in the same battle as Douglas McArthur McCain, who grew up outside Minneapolis in the town of New Hope and most recently lived in San Diego. The State Department confirmed McCain’s death earlier this week, but spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Wednesday that the US has no independent confirmation of the second American’s death. “We’re looking into it,” she said.

A source told Fox News that Muhumed’s family had been sent a photo of his body from Syria, but had not been formally notified by the State Department. Fox News was unable to contact the family.

A profile of Muhumed by Minnesota Public Radio this past June described him as a 29-year-old Somali-American who had been married more than once and was a father of nine children. MPR reported, citing the FBI, that at least 15 young men from the Twin Citites’ Somali-American community had traveled to Syria to join Islamic State, the militant group formerly known as ISIS that has captured wide swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.

In a Facebook messages to an MPR reporter, Muhumed wrote “I give up this worldly life for Allah” and “Allah loves those who fight for his cause.” A picture posted on the social network showed Muhumed carrying a Koran in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Federal investigators believe that approximately 100 Americans have traveled to Syria to join Islamist groups. Most of them are disaffected young men targeted by recruitment videos like those one put out by the Somali-based, Al Qaeda-linked group al-Shabaab that praised Minnesota’s “martyrs.” One such “martyr” was Troy Kastigar, a high school classmate of Douglas McCain and a Muslim convert who was killed in Somalia in 2009.

Abdi Bihi, a leader in the Twin Cities’ Somalian community, told KMSP that ISIS has recently begun trying to recruit young women from the Twin Cities to their cause.

“They are brainwashing them to marry them off to jihadists,” he said. “They call them to help out as nurses, help out the wounded — but the real catch is they will be sexually exploited.”

While the jihadists may see fighting as a path to paradise, Bihi said the only thing young people who take that path will face is disappointment, possibly even death.

“What will not change is the pain and agony and suffering of the parents,” he lamented.

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