Iraqi church leaders say the country’s Christians are suffering immensely and have blamed the U.S. for what they describe as their "tragic conditions".
They said their churches were being evacuated and monasteries occupied by U.S. occupation troops while cities like Basra and Baghdad were being emptied of Christians.
"U.S. and Iraqi officials are responsible … They have insulted and humiliated our temples and churches," said Patriarch Amanuel Dali, the head of the Chaldean Catholic community in Iraq.
The Chaldeans were the largest Christian group in the country but their numbers have dwindled since the U.S. invasion of 2003.
"Christians are being forced to flee their areas by armed groups who are in control of streets in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul and other cities," Dali said.
"I plead with the world countries and human rights organizations to stop the violations being committed against Iraqi minorities," he added.
Iraqi Christians in the southern and central parts of Iraq are afraid to attend church services and monks and nuns living in Baghdad’s numerous monasteries have all but fled.
U.S. invasion troops have turned one of Baghdad’s largest monasteries where the Chaldeans had a theology college and a seminary into military barracks.
Baghdad has more than 50 churches and most of them are now deserted.
Unidentified armed groups issue statements warning Christians they will have either to convert to Islam or leave.
Christian leaders say more than 250,000 Iraqi Christians have fled the country since the 2003 U.S. invasion.
And Basra where more than 150,000 Christians use