The Christians of Iraq were given a choice to make to either convert to Islam, pay a tax or face death. But by the time the deadline imposed by the Islamic State extremist group expired, the massive group of Christians in Mosul had made their decision. They fled away.

Families with children, parents, grandparents and everyone huddled together for survival. They headed for the largely autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq or other areas protected by the Kurdish security forces.

Their departure is perhaps the final departure of Christians from the city, thereby emptying out communities that date back to the early centuries of Christianity, including Chaldean, Assyrian and Armenian churches.

Iraq was home to an estimated 1 million Christians before the 2003. After toppling off Saddam Hussain,militants have frequented attacks and have consistently targeted Christians across the country, bombing their churches and killing clergymen Under pressure the minority Christians fled away.

Most of Mosul’s remaining Christians fled when the Islamic State group and an array of other Sunni militants captured the city on June 10 with the opening move across northern and western Iraq.

As per the extremist group’s rule, “When the Islamic State people took over Mosul weeks ago, they were nice to us at first and they used to knock our door and tell us that they mean no harm to the Christians in Mosul and they even gave us a mobile number just in case we are offended by anybody,” said Sahir Yahya, a Christian and government employee from Mosul. “This changed two days ago. The Islamic State people revealed their true savage nature and intention.” she added.

Yahya fled with her husband and two sons to the town of Qaraqoush, and boarded into a temporary lodging at a monastery.

“I know a lot of Christian families that left Mosul. We will always want to return to our houses and pray in our churches in Mosul, and eventually we will return, but not under the rule of the terrorist Islamic State,” she said.