I recently returned from a trip to the Middle East that included visits to the Iraqi cities of Baghdad and Erbil. There was some good news out of Iraq recently, as Kurdish fighters – helped by U.S. airstrikes – pushed back ISIS forces around the town of Sinjar. This advance broke ISIS’s siege of Mount Sinjar, where thousands of civilians had fled after ISIS launched a calculated campaign of mass murder. Despite this progress, ISIS’s recent publication of a manual approving the beating and trading of Christian and Jewish sex slaves, alongside harrowing reports of the widespread murder and forced conversion of Christians – including the killing of children – should remind us of the terrible fate that will befall millions if these depraved zealots are not defeated.
Not many Americans would want to live amid this dangerous war. Yet in Iraq, I met U.S. servicemen and women who are risking their lives to assist the battle against ISIS. I am in awe of their selfless courage. These Americans are spending Christmas there – in a warzone far from friends and family – so that we can celebrate Christmas in safety here.
So I’d like to offer my gratitude and appreciation to military veterans as well as active duty, reserve, and national guard servicemembers, especially those now on deployment, and wish my friends and constituents a Merry Christmas.