As many as 1.5 million Christians, or close to 75 percent of all followers of Christ in Iraq, have fled the country since 2003, according to an Iraqi Christian lawmaker. “The number of Christians living in the country now stands at between 500,000 and 850,000,” Josef Sleve told Anadolu Agency on Wednesday. “This means that over the past 14 years, some 1.5 million Christians have emigrated to other countries.”

Sleve noted that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 to topple dictator Saddam Hussein began the mass exodus, but said that the Islamic State terror group’s conquests in the northern and western parts of the country since mid-2014 have also played a huge part. The terror group has specifically said that it wants to wipe out Christians, and has beheaded, executed, tortured and enslaved thousands of people throughout its captured territory, which extends into Syria and other regions. READ MORE