ICC: Beirut Explosion Sends Shockwaves Through Iraq

Last week’s catastrophe in Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut is one the most forceful and damaging non-nuclear explosions in world history. Over 2,700 tons of poorly stored ammonium nitrate ignited in an explosion that was reportedly felt in both Cyprus and Damascus. Most corners of Beirut have significant damage, and it is estimated that tens of thousands are now homeless.


(International Christian Concern (ICC)) – Last week’s catastrophe in Lebanon’s capital city of Beirut is one the most forceful and damaging non-nuclear explosions in world history.

Over 2,700 tons of poorly stored ammonium nitrate ignited in an explosion that was reportedly felt in both Cyprus and Damascus. Most corners of Beirut have significant damage, and it is estimated that tens of thousands are now homeless.

The entire global community was shocked by this disaster.

But nearby in Iraq, where militias run rampant, and the storage of explosives in residential areas is common, the shock was underscored by the thought, “This could have happened here.” It is a reality that has helped propel Christian immigration from the country.

One Christian living in Baghdad watched in disbelief at the events unfolding in Lebanon. “I would imagine that this explosion happens in Iraq rather than Beirut! I think Iranians have more influence in Iraq. We are geographically closer to Iran. In Iraq, there are many more military bases that belong to Iran. The Iraqi government should start looking for such materials, like ammonium nitrate, to avoid any similar disaster!”

Indeed, Beirut’s catastrophe did seem to hit home for some Iraqi officials. The head of Iraq’s Border Ports Authority quickly began forming a committee intended to clear out all hazardous inventory from the border ports. They were given 72 hours to complete the task. But in some ways, it was an order that missed the point: hazardous materials are stored everywhere in Iraq, not just the ports. These materials are connected to militias and their respective political parties, many of whom are heavily under Iranian influence.

“Iraq and Lebanon have similarities on so many things,” adds another Baghdad Christian. “Mainly the influence of Iran, which results in a militia existence in both countries. Those militias could be different in approaches, but there is one thing that they 100% share: corruption. Since they are recognized as terrorist groups and they can’t get resources unless it is under the table.”

“Corruption results in risking thousands of lives every day. Stocking explosive materials in Iraq among civilians’ houses is risking lives; bad storage at the border is risking lives. I think we can have examples as much as you can read,” he continues. “These militias one way or another are destroying the Middle East. Wherever there is Iran or its militia, there are disasters, crimes, and abuse of human rights. That results in the leaving of Christians and other people who can’t be a member of a militia for religious or social reasons.”

Such scenarios are already playing out, reminds a Christian business owner in Baghdad. He specifically remembers examples similar to Beirut occurring in the Christian areas of Iraq, thanks to both ISIS and Hashid militias. He says, “I would like to remind everyone of all the explosions that took place in Iraq; there were huge ones that result in damage to hundreds of houses. Go and look at Mosul and the Nineveh Plains!”

“All that results in the immigration of Christians and other minorities,” he adds. “When militias and Hashid come and store explosive materials next to your house, what will you do? You will get killed if you talk, and you will get killed if you stay at the same house. (There are) no options! How many explosions took place in Baghdad, such as because Hashid facilities have been targeted by the international coalition?!! ISIS and other extremist groups since 2003 have impacted Christians’ life so much.”

This reality has frustrated so many Iraqi Christians in the aftermath of the Beirut explosion. For those who had tried immigrating, Lebanon was a common destination during the intermediary stage. At least, unlike other neighboring countries, there was a sizeable Lebanese Christian population to integrate with during the interim. But now with Lebanon destroyed, immigration looks harder. Its destruction serves as a reminder of what so many Iraqi Christians were trying to flee.

A Christian from Qeraqosh explained, “I have experienced so many wars, since 1980 and 1991 and later. The safe place during the war was home, but not anymore. You could die even if you are at your home, just if any militia decided to store their weapons and rockets in your neighborhood.”

Such a reality sits uneasily in the minds of Christians. “Is there still a place to live in this country?” asks one woman. “When you lose someone close to your heart, that is the worst thing that could happen to someone, especially if the cause of death was avoidable. Militias are avoidable. After every explosion and targeting, I see people leaving the country. We ended up strangers. Friends and relatives are leaving one after one, can you tell me when that will have an end?”

The explosion in Lebanon was avoidable. But Iranian regional influence, militias, and their respective political parties, make it a possible scenario in many Middle East countries. For Iraqi Christians, it is an explosion that sends shockwaves throughout the community.

For there is no way to escape such a possibility, except to leave.

Blogs to Follow:

Persecution.org (August 2020) Beirut Explosion Sends Shockwaves Through Iraq

Iraqi Christians Evacuate Following Turkish Airstrikes

On Saturday, the International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported that since the beginning of Turkey’s airstrike operations in northern Iraq, nine of the 11 Christian villages in the Zakho district have reportedly evacuated.


On Saturday, the International Christian Concern (ICC) has reported that since the beginning of Turkey’s airstrike operations in northern Iraq, nine of the 11 Christian villages in the Zakho district have reportedly evacuated.

The Turkish Defense Ministry began Operation Eagle Claw in mid-June, bombing alleged Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) positions in Iraqi Kurdistan.

The Turkey-PKK conflict has not only displaced several Christian communities but also severely impacted the livelihood of the civilians staying behind.

Christian villagers complain of serious economic tolls, as agriculture is burned during the airstrikes and tourists are prevented from utilizing the hospitality industry.

Turkey’s military operations against the PKK are seriously endangering the lives of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire.

The airstrikes are indiscriminate and target areas that are home to minority groups—not the PKK.

For many of these Christians, they are also struggling to recover from period of ISIS’s genocide against religious minorities.

Many see no difference between then and now, except that the main actor has changed.

Blogs to Follow:

Persecution.org (July 2020) Iraqi Christians Evacuate Following Turkish Airstrikes

Christian Teenager Killed in Iraq Protests

A 15-year-old Assyrian Christian named Rimon was killed by Iraqi security forces while protesting in Tahrir Square on Tuesday, February 25. Rimon was targeted and killed with a hunting rifle.


24 Other Protesters Wounded in Tahrir Square Violence

International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that a 15-year-old Assyrian Christian named Rimon was killed by Iraqi security forces while protesting in Tahrir Square on Tuesday, February 25. Rimon was targeted and killed with a hunting rifle. Twenty-four other protesters were also wounded during the violence from gunshots and teargas.

Following this incident, the Iraqi Christian community is mourning the loss of one of its members. “Protesting in Baghdad took a lot of souls. Rimon was among them, and he was only 15 years old,” a local Christian woman told ICC. “I cannot imagine how sad Rimon’s parents are. Every day we are losing lots of souls; someone needs to do something to stop this massacre,” another Christian protester added.

A local shop owner near the protests said, “Targeting protesters by hunting guns is a crime. No one helps Iraqi citizens.”

Rimon’s mentor at his church commented, “All he did was seeking a better future.” A fellow church member echoed, “I am so sad for Rimon and his parents. He was there to ask for a better life. It could have been me instead of him. Actually, it could have been any of us there.”

Tuesday’s violence comes nearly 150 days after the protests first began. Reports indicate that over 600 Iraqis have been killed since October 1, protesting government corruption, high unemployment, insufficient public services, and foreign interference. The protests were originally ignited over the removal of Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi as commander of counter-terrorism forces. His widespread popularity after his leadership in defeating ISIS sparked demonstrations that have grown in both size and intensity.  

ICC’s Regional Manager for the Middle East, Claire Evans, commented, “We pray for the family of Rimon and for peace to come to a region that has seen increased violence toward Christians. We praise God as the refuge and strong tower that He is for our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ who continue to endure so much.”

Cell Phones and Accessories

Persecution.org (February, 2020) Christian Teenager Killed in Iraq Protests

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