(ROME) -- Pope Francis on Friday called on world leaders to move to protect and help Christians who have been forced from their homes in northern Iraq by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
His appeal comes amid reports that Islamic militants have trapped as many as 40,000 Iraqi minorities in the area and forced tens of thousands more to flee.
Most residents fled Iraq's largest Christian city Qaraqosh as the convoys of extremists approached. Other nearby Christian towns have also been abandoned.
"I ask all men and women of goodwill to join me in praying for Iraqi Christians and all vulnerable populations," Pope Francis tweeted Friday.
Most of those under attack, however, are members of one of Iraq's oldest religious groups, the Yazidi, which reveres both the Bible and the Koran.
"Please take a moment today to pray for all those who have been forced from their homes in Iraq. #PrayForPeace," the pope added.
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