US condemns forced exile of Christians from Mosul

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is condemning Islamic militants who have made thousands of Christians flee for their lives from Iraq's second-largest city.

Last week, the message played over loudspeakers gave the Christians of Mosul until midday Saturday to make a choice: convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. By the time the deadline expired, the vast majority of them had fled to the largely autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq or other areas protected by Kurdish security forces.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Monday that the U.S. condemns the Islamic State group's persecution of religious minorities, but is "particularly outraged" at the ultimatum it delivered to Mosul's Christians.

Their departure marks the latest — and perhaps final — exodus of Christians from the city, emptying out communities that date back to the first centuries of Christianity, including Chaldean, Assyrian and Armenian churches.

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