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East County News Service

August 2, 2014 (Washington D.C.)—The White House has issued its first official condemnation of the persecution and massacre of Iraqi Christians by ISIS terrorists.

Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications Benjamin Rhodes met with Iraqi Chaldean and Assyrian leaders on July 31st to discuss the security situation in Iraq and its effect on Christian and other minority populations.

“Mr. Rhodes appreciated hearing the vital perspectives of these important communities regarding the difficulties facing Iraq’s Christians. He condemned the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) ongoing attacks on the Christian and minority communities in northern Iraq and the group’s systematic destruction of religious sites," a statement issued by the White House press secretary later in the day reads.   Rhodes further emphasized that "the United States continues to urge Iraq’s leaders to form an inclusive government that can address the rights and legitimate concerns of all of Iraq’s diverse communities, including Iraq’s Christians – only then can Iraq successfully and sustainably confront the security and humanitarian challenges all of its citizens face in the common fight against ISIL," the White House press secretary stated.

In addition, Rhodes noted that "We encourage government officials in Baghdad and Erbil to take all possible measures to assist Iraq’s vulnerable populations, and agreed that this issue demands the continued attention of the international community.  The United States remains committed to helping all of Iraq’s diverse communities, including Christians, Sabean-Mandaeans, Shabak, and Yezidis," the statement concluded.

In San Diego's East County, Mark Arabo, national spokesman for Iraqi-American Christians and president of the Neighborhood Market Association, offered this reaction.

"This was an important statement that marks the beginning of progress from the Obama Administration.  This is the first official condemnation from the Obama Administration against the ethnic cleansing carried out by ISIS. It was a signal of intent-- that President Obama will stand by minority religious groups throughout the world.”

Arabo added, “This is a strong validation of the Obama Doctrine being one of little passivity with regards to supporting measures that seek to implement minority representation into the inner workings of foreign governments. We will continue to apply pressure on the Maliki government to introduce the proper legislation that reinforces it's commitment to religious minorities."