Emboldened by a weakened Iraqi government that is struggling to stop their murderous advance, the extremists of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria declared over the weekend that they have set up a caliphate spanning large areas of the two countries.
In a newly released audio message and written statement, purportedly from the official spokesman of ISIS, the group called on Muslims to swear allegiance to the caliphate, which means Islamic state.
The group said in the message Sunday, which CNN couldn’t independently confirm, that its flag now flies from Aleppo province in northwestern Syria to Diyala province in eastern Iraq. It announced that it was changing its name to just the “Islamic State.”
The ISIS statement was just one of the many developments in the fast-moving situation in Iraq over the weekend.
From The Telegraph:
A man has survived being crucified by Isis in Syria, after the jihadists raided his village and nailed him to a cross for eight hours.
The unnamed man from Al-Bab, near the border with Turkey, was crucified as a punishment, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
He managed to survive the ordeal.
But eight others who received the same punishment did not survive. The men, from Deir Hafer in the east of Aleppo province, were subjected to the same treatment and crucified “in the main square of the village, where their bodies will remain for three days”, the Britain-based monitor said.
The men were reportedly rebels fighting against both President Bashar al-Assad and jihadist groups including Isis.
Isis first emerged in Syria’s war in late spring last year – and was initially welcomed by some Syrian rebels, who believed its combat experience would help topple Mr Assad.
But subsequent acts of immense brutality quickly turned the Syrian opposition, including Islamists, against Isis.
And then there’s this:
Last Sunday, for the first time in 1600 years, no mass was celebrated in Mosul. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) seized Iraq’s second largest city on June 10, causing most Christians in the region to flee in terror, in new kinship with the torment of Christ crucified on the cross. The remnant of Mosul’s ancient Christian community, long inhabitants of the place where many believe Jonah to be buried, now faces annihilation behind ISIS lines. Those who risk worship must do so in silence, praying under new Sharia regulations that have stilled every church bell in the city.
Read it all. Every heartbreaking word.