Transcript for The Devastating Impact of ISIS
We're back now with "A closer look" at a region under siege. This weekend, we drove to the Turkish border with Syria. Witnessing firsthand how violent extremism has put followers of different faiths in grave danger. And how this conflict is leaving a permanent scar on the land and on its people. We traveled hours to reach this border. A border like no other. Where we passed those who fled Syria's upheaval. Now without a home. And with little hope. But finally, we see across the border this site of a rare victory against Isis, kobani, the Syrian border town where kurdish fighters prevailed. Over the brutal extremists. Still, the destruction from the battle has left a devastating mark. It's easy to still see the destruction in kobani. Almost every building in the town was struck during months of U.S. Air strikes. Isis was kicked out of kobani. But not before most of its inhabitants were displaced. Almost everyone from kobani fled when Isis moved in. They won't be going back anytime soon. They're all in refugee camps. This one alone, 45,000 people. Now, a new crisis is developing for the region's persecuted Kris than minorities. Following the border east some 100 miles from kobani, we travelled to this Turkish town. The town of Marden. Here, up ancient stone corridors lay churches and mosques. A place where religions have coexisted for aeons. Where persecuted Christians are now finding sanctuary. Why target Christians? This man says they want everyone to be part of Isis. All the world. So of course they wouldn't accept Christians in Syria. This week, Isis militants abducted dozens of asyrian Christians from a string of villages in northeast Syria. Some reports say as many as 350 Christians were kidnapped from their homes. We might be helpless. But we are never hopeless. Reporter: Father Emmanuel yukana is an archbishop of the asyrian church in the east. He had been in touch with many of the fleeing families. I feel crying for them. This is why we're asking, please. Let us have an end to this continuous chapter of persecution. Once and forever. Reporter: Long persecuted in the middle east, the asyrians are one of the oldest Christian communities in the world. They still speak a version of aramaic. The language Jesus spoke. The abduction is only the latest shock in what has been a harrowing year for the region's minorities, as Isis swept through. Last August, 40,000 of Iraq's yasidi population fled. U.s. Air strikes and humanitarian aid alleviated the situation until kurdish fighters finally liberated them in December. Then, another blow. Isis released a video showing the slaughter of 21 Egyptians coptic Christians on a beach. This week, video showing the destruction of priceless Syrian antiquities as well. Thousands of years old, now ruined forever. The most difficult days are parsing now. Reporter: And as the threat to Christians in Syria grows, another Christian leader we spoke to left us with a simple request. On Sunday morning at mass, remember to pray for us. We're now joined by Matt Bradley, who has covered this region for years for "The wall Street journal." And Matt, you and I have been talking over the last year, the last time we met in Baghdad, we heard the secretary of state's assessment about what is happening in the battle against Isis. What have you been seeing? Well, for the past several months, the administration has been flogging this idea that they're making gains against the islamic state. The battlefield momentum that islamic state first had back in June, when they took over mosul and advanced to within shouting distance of Baghdad, that they had reversed that tide. There's really very little evidence to point to that. Most of the gains made by anti-isis forces have been modest. They've been problematic. They've been done by shiite militia groups and others who have vested interest in trying to gain land and trying to subjugate Sunnis in the western part of the country. So a lot of the on-the-ground victories have really been either very small, or some what mixed in terms of results and where this country is going. It's been more fragmenting. When you look at retaking mosul, they're saying it will happen with the Iraqi forces, do you think it's possible in this year? Well, the Pentagon has just sort of climbed down from their original statements that said this would be happening in April or may. That was always going to be an optimistic assessment. That announcement caused a lot of outrage, not just in Washington but in Baghdad. Where a lot of the Iraqi military generals are saying, why are we announcing plans for this? Why are we telling the enemy when we're going to be attacking and how many soldiers we're going to be using? It's been difficult. A vexing issue for a lot of people in Iraq. And a lot of people in the government. The Iraqi security forces, from what you have seen, as we all remember, they ran about a year ago. And not much has really changed in terms of the Iraqi security forces' ability to fight against the islamic state. When this was announced, they said 25,000 Iraqi soldiers versus 2,000 Isis troops in the city of mosul. That's hard urban warfare. It will be street by street fighting. It doesn't look like they'll be able to take the city in the time frame they've announced. Syria? Quickly. That's another story. Syria, there are no U.S. Troops on the ground in Syria. That will be very, very difficult. The United States has already pummeled the town of kobani. Which you visited. It's been really, it's been hard to put U.S. -- People with U.S. Interests on the ground. Trying to reverse the islamic state's gains. Even the kurdish Pesh merga, a lot of the other anti-isis rebels are not going to be really projecting the goals that the United States wants to see in a new Syria. So it's very problematic. Always great to see you Matt. Thank you. Coming up, amid threats from
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