Kurdish "peshmerga" troops take part in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants
Kurdish 'peshmerga' troops take part in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants Reuters

Sunni Jihadists of the Islamic State have taken over Iraq's largest Christian town of Qaraqosh causing thousands of residents to flee towards Kurdistan region, according to reports.

The militants pushed back Kurdish peshmerga troops and conquered Qaraqosh, an entirely Christian town of 50,000 which is located between jihadist-held Mosul and Erbil, the Kurdish region's capital.

"I now know that the towns of Qaraqosh, Tal Kayf, Bartella and Karamlesh have been emptied of their original population and are now under the control of the militants," Joseph Thomas, the Chaldean archbishop of Kirkuk and Sulaimaniyah, told AFP.

"It's a catastrophe, a tragic situation. We call on the UN Security Council to immediately intervene. Tens of thousands of terrified people are being displaced as we speak, it cannot be described," the archbishop said.

The French organisation Fraternité en Irak said that the commander of the Peshmerga forces in Qaraqosh told the town's archbishop late on Wednesday that the soliders would have to abandon their fighting posts and leave the city.

Kurdish forces also withdrew from surrounding towns of the Nineveh province (Bartalla, Ba'ashika, Tal Kayf, Al Qosh, Tel Eskof and Batnaya).

"Hundreds of thousands of people are on the way to Kurdistan, to Erbil and Dohuk," the group reported on its website. "We receive accounts of people stuck at checkpoints on the road to Kurdistan".

The patriarch of the Chaldeans Archbishop Louis Sako launched an SOS through Fraternité en Irak to the international community. "Among the thousands of people on the road, the elderly, the pregnant women or children are particularly at risk: it will make about 55 degrees on the road today," reads the report.

He added that up to 1,500 manuscript were burnt.

"The international community cannot stay silent in front of the drama unfolding in the Nineveh plain," Benedict Camurat Faraj, president of the Fraternité en Irak, said.

Islamic State's advance into Iraq's northern areas, home to a large part of the country's Christian communities, came after it took over Sinjar from the Kurdish forces, forcing 200,000 people to flee.

Most of them managed to arrive in the Kurdistan region but 30,000 belonging to an ancient and secretive religion, the Yazidism, were trapped in the Sinjar mountains and left to starve to death after escaping the jihadists' siege.

In an attempt to flee the jihadists' grip, 500 Yazidi men were killed by militants. The women were enslaved as "war booty", Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi lawmaker, said.