Thousands of Yazidis stranded atop Iraq's Mount Sinjar
after fleeing the Islamic State are afraid they will be "hunted down" by the terror group if they come down, Middle East expert Whalid Phares said on Newsmax TV
's "America's Forum" on Tuesday.
"There are many older people and children who are sick," Phares said. "It's not that large population anymore of 50,000, but there are still in the thousands that are stuck in that mountain."
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There are Christian refugees from Assyrian communities on the streets of Iraqi Kurdistan, Phares added.
With the help of U.S. airstrikes, Kurdish forces have recaptured a large swath of the Mosul Dam as well as 90 percent of the Nevaeh Valley province, where most Iraqi Christians in the north had been living, said Phares.
Pope Francis' support
this week of military action should strengthen Christians' resolve to take up arms and defend themselves, he said.
"This is very important news," Phares said. "This is to prevent what has happened in World War II, where it was said that the church was partisan in the beginning. This time, the Pope said when there's ethnic cleansing and genocide, there is a legitimacy to pushing back against the perpetrators.
"This is going to mean two things. Number one, it's going to give the international community the additional moral force to do that, to continue with that job, not just in Iraq, maybe in Syria later, and number two, it's going to tell the Christian Iraqis, don't leave the country, stay in, go back to your homes and then organize yourselves as a surviving community."
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