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Turlockers rally to aid Assyrian refugees
Assyrian rally pic
Assyrians in Beirut, Lebanon hold placards and wave their community's flag as they protest with several hundred people in solidarity with Christians abducted in Syria and Iraq. The Islamic State group, which has repeatedly targeted religious minorities in Syria and Iraq, abducted hundreds of Assyrians in the past few weeks in northeastern Syria.

The Turlock Assyrian American Civic Club is collecting donations to send much-needed aid to Assyrians in Syria forced to flee their homes in the wake of recent attacks by Islamic State.

"We have Assyrian churches there that are needing humanitarian aid," said Assyrian American Civic Club President Sam David.

The Turlock Assyrian club is holding a rally starting at 4 p.m. Sunday in an effort to collect donations to send to churches helping refugees in Syria and educate the public on the status of Assyrian groups caught in the fighting. The money will go to help feed and house the families displaced by the recent attacks.

On Feb. 23, fighting broke out between IS and Assyrian and Kurdish fighters in the Hasaka province in northeast Syria. According to the Assyrian International News Agency, 3,000 Assyrians were evacuated due to the fighting and IS is still holding over 300 people who were captured.

On March 7, IS launched a second series of attacks on Assyrian villages on the Khabur river in Hasaka, Syria. In Iraq ISIS destroyed a third Assyrian archaeological site, the city of Khorsabad, more than 2,700 years old. This comes on the heels of ISIS destroying the city of Nimrud, the Museum of Mosul, and the walls of the city of Nineveh.

David said "quite a few" members of the Turlock club have family directly affected by the fighting and evacuations. Locals have been keeping in touch with their loved ones as best they could, mostly through the local churches taking in the refugees.

"It's a lot better today than it was a few weeks ago," said David about the refugees, many of which fled into the wilderness before finding refuge in the cities that have Assyrian churches.

The entire community is invited to attend Sunday's rally, and donations will be accepted at the club for the aid. The club is located at 2618 N. Golden State Blvd., Turlock.