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Christians in Iraq face severe persecution for over two decades

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the launching of the U.S.-led coalition’s invasion of Iraq and the subsequent toppling of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. The invasion itself was the culmination of more than two decades of Iraq’s wars with its neighbors, international sanctions, and the building of a powerful, tightly controlled nation under the authoritarian rule of Saddam Hussein.


The US invasion in March 2003 then began what has been characterized by another two decades of turmoil, including internal sectarian violence and a massive exodus of Iraq’s nearly two-thousand-year-old Christian communities.

Prior to the beginning of the second US-Iraq war, Christians in Iraq estimated to number between 1-2 million. Two decades later, the number is estimated to have dropped 80%, with less than 250,000 estimated remaining in Iraq.

Between 2005 and 2011, the nation’s security vacuum and sectarian civil war left Christian churches and families vulnerable to a long series of targeted attacks. Between 2014 and 2017, the conflict and attempted genocide by ISIS towards Iraq’s religious minorities, including Christians, led to even greater numbers of Christians leaving Iraq.


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