Remnants of the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq are showing signs of a resurgence as they exploit a coronavirus lockdown, coalition troop withdrawals, and simmering political disputes to ramp up deadly attacks. The deadliest attack so far took place in the early hours of Saturday 2 May, which killed 10 Iraqi troops north of Baghdad. Observers say the recent attacks demonstrate a new escalation in the jihadist group’s tactics but one they believe could still be contained. Intelligence reports say the number of IS fighters in Iraq is believed to be 2,500-3,000. Iraqi military officials believe the improved, organised nature of the attacks serves to cement the influence of new IS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, who was named after his predecessor was killed in a US raid late last year. One military official said more operations are expected during Ramadan to demonstrate the new leader’s strength.

From a Christian perspective, the Islamic State’s resurgence in northern Iraq will add to the concern of Iraqi Christians, especially those who have been contemplating returning to their traditional homes in the Nineveh Plains. According to one of Iraq’s most senior Catholic Bishops, the “Islamist mindset” that persists in the region has made Christian refugees “afraid to return”.  According to the Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin: “The indigenous Christian nation [Assyrians] whose homelands are centred in and around the Nineveh Plains (in northern Iraq), are facing threats on many fronts, particularly from a resurgent Islamic State, as well as from Kurds (Sunnis) and Shabaks (Shi’ites, backed by Baghdad and Tehran) who are devouring and colonising Assyrian lands, threatening not only Assyria’s heritage but its future. It truly is a Christian crisis. Please pray.”

Pray with us for the following:

  • For an effective response to the resurgent Islamic State group
  • For the Lord to strengthen and protect the Christian remnant
  • For the Lord to bless the Assyrians as prophesied in Isaiah 19:25