Iraq’s largest Christian city was all but abandoned on Thursday as the jihadist advance through minority communities in the country’s north-west rampaged towards the Kurdish stronghold of Erbil.
UN officials said an estimated 200,000 new refugees were seeking sanctuary in the Kurdish north from Islamic extremists who had pursued them since the weekend. The city of Qaraqosh, south-east of Mosul, home to around 50,000 Christians was the latest to fall, with most residents fleeing before dawn as convoys of extremists drew near.
Other Christian towns near Mosul, including Tel Askof, Tel Keif and Qaramless have also largely been emptied. Those who remained behind have reportedly been given the same stark choice given to other minorities, including Yazidis: flee, convert to Islam, or be killed.
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