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Some 400 Iraqi Christians flee to Syria

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Baghdad_(dpa) _ After a series of atrocities against Iraqi Christians in Mosul, around 400 Christians arrived in Syria to escape the harsh conditions of home, according to a statement by a Syrian refugee assistance organization Friday.

In the last few days, some 20 Christian families arrived in the city of Qamhley, which is close to the Syrian-Iraqi border, said Lauren Gul, a representative of the refugee assistance group.

Since the end of September, Iraqi Christians in Mosul, which lies 405 kilometres north of Baghdad, have been targeted by extremists.

Hundreds have been killed, while the rest have received death threats. Most have sought protection in surrounding villages.

The UNHCR is currently assisting hundreds of Iraqi Christians who fled from Mosul to Syria. Most of them asserted that they would return home soon.

Meanwhile, Christian lawmakers condemned the Iraq security forces for failing to protect the Mosul's Christians.

"I call for the replacement of forces that failed to protect Christians in their areas, new forces capable of providing security should be deployed in these places," Yonadam Youssef told the Voices of Iraq (VOI).

Youssef accused some of the government forces of cooperating with terrorist groups.

He demanded that the Shiite-dominated government of Prime Minister Nuri-al Maliki release the results of investigations on the displacement of the Christians of Mosul.

The Vatican's envoy to Iraq, Francis Assisi Chullikat, called for all Iraqi Christians to go back home.

After a meeting with al-Maliki, Chullikat said the Iraqi government is now prepared to quickly and decisively protect Christians in Mosul.

Iraqi Christians are one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. There are about 636,000 in Iraq. Most of them speak an ancient Aramaic dialect.

They live in the northern provinces of Arbil, Nineveh and Dahuk. dpa sag ncs wjh

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