A busy week for Islamic State group, beheading and radicalizing from Iraq to New York
Beirut, Nirapad News : Little known to the wider world 18 months ago, the Islamic State extremist group has muscled its way into the international spotlight by carving out a self-declared caliphate in the heart of the Mideast, beheading its opponents and foreign journalists, and attracting radicalized youth as far afield as Paris, London and New York.
The militants’ once seemingly unstoppable push across Syria and Iraq has slowed to a crawl in recent months as the United States, its Arab allies and even rival Iran work to roll back the group and ultimately defeat it. Despite those efforts, the extremists show little sign of crumbling under the weight of international efforts to crush it.
In northeastern Syria, the militants swept through several villages and seized more than 220 Christians from their homes over a three-day stretch beginning around dawn Monday. The onslaught also forced thousands of people to flee to nearby cities. The fate of those kidnapped, almost all of them Assyrian Christians, remains unclear. The abductions have compounded fears among religious minorities in both Syria and Iraq, where the Islamic State group’s fighters have repeatedly targeted minorities, killing them, driving them from their homes, enslaving their women and destroying their places of worship.
In northern Iraq, meanwhile, the militants took sledgehammers and drills to smash ancient Mesopotamian statues and other artifacts in the city of Mosul, including a winged-bull that dated to the 7th century B.C. The destruction, documented in a video posted online, is part of a wider campaign by the extremists to eliminate anything that they view as heretical. UNESCO’s director general, Irina Bokova condemned the destruction, calling it “a deliberate attack against Iraq’s millennial history and culture” and “an inflammatory incitement to violence and hatred.”